Genji Monogatari, by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, tr. Suematsu Kencho, , at sacred-texts.com
It was the time when Genji became subject to periodical attacks of ague, that many exorcisms and spells were performed to effect a cure, but all in vain. At length he was told by a friend that in a certain temple on the northern mountain (Mount Kurama) there dwelt a famous ascetic, and that when the epidemic had prevailed during the previous summer, many people had recovered through his exorcisms. "If," added the friend, "the disease is neglected it becomes serious; try therefore, this method of procuring relief at once, and before it is too late."
Genji, therefore, sent for the hermit, but he declined to come, saying that he was too old and decrepit to leave his retreat. "What shall I do?" exclaimed Genji, "shall I visit him privately?" Eventually, taking four or five attendants, he started off early one morning for the place, which was at no great distance on the mountain.
It was the last day of March, and though the height of the season for flowers in the capital was over, yet, on the mountain, the cherry-trees were still in blossom. They advanced on their way further and further. The haze clung to the surface like a soft sash does round the waist, and to Genji, who had scarcely ever been out of the capital, the scenery was indescribably novel. The ascetic lived in a deep cave in the rocks, near the lofty summit. Genji did not, however, declare who he was, and the style of his retinue was of a very private character. Yet his nobility of manners was easily recognizable.
"Welcome your visit!" cried the hermit, saluting him. "Perhaps you are the one who sent for me the other day? I have long since quitted the affairs of this world, and have almost forgotten the secret of my exorcisms. I wonder why you have come here for me." So saying, he pleasingly embraced him.
[paragraph continues] He was evidently a man of great holiness. He wrote out a talismanic prescription, which he gave to Genji to drink in water, while he himself proceeded to perform some mysterious rite. During the performance of this ceremony the sun rose high in the heavens. Genji, meantime, walked out of the cave and looked around him with his attendants. The spot where they stood was very lofty, and numerous monasteries were visible, scattered here and there in the distance beneath. There was immediately beyond the winding path in which they were walking a picturesque and pretty building enclosed by hedges. Its well arranged balconies and the gardens around it apparently betokened the good taste of its inhabitants. "Whose house may that be?" inquired Genji of his attendants. They told him it was a house in which a certain priest had been living for the last two years. "Ah! I know him," said Genji. "Strange, indeed, would it be if he were to discover that I am here in this privacy." They noticed a nun and a few more females with her walking in the garden, who were carrying fresh water for their offerings, and were gathering flowers. "Ah! there are ladies walking there," cried the attendants in tones of surprise. "Surely, the Reverend Father would not indulge in flirtations! Who can they be?" And some of them even descended a little distance, and peered over the enclosure, where a pretty little girl was also seen amongst them.
Genji now engaged in prayer until the sun sank in the heavens. His attendants, who were anxious about his disease, told him that it would be good for him to have a change from time to time. Hereupon, he advanced to the back of the temple, and his gaze fell on the far-off Capital in the distance, which was enveloped in haze as the dusk was setting in, over the tops of the trees around. "What a lovely landscape!" exclaimed Genji. "The people to whom such scenery is familiar, are perhaps happy and contented." "Nay," said the attendants, "but were you to see the beautiful mountain ranges and the sea-coast in our various provinces, the pictures would indeed be found lovely." Then some of them described to him Fuji Yama, while others told him of other mountains, diverting his attention by their animated description of the beautiful bays and coasts of the Western Provinces; thus as they depicted them to him, they cheered and gladdened his mind. One of them went on to say: "Among such sights and at no great distance, there
is the sea-coast of Akashi, in the Province of Harima, which is, I think, especially beautiful. I cannot, indeed, point out in detail its most remarkable features, but, in general, the blue expanse of the sea is singularly charming. Here, too, the home of the former Governor of the Province constitutes an object of great attraction. He has assumed the tonsure, and resides there with his beautiful daughter. He is the descendant of a high personage, and was not without hope of elevation at Court, but, being of an eccentric character, he was strongly averse to society. He had formerly been a Chiûjiô of the Imperial Guard, but having resigned that office, had become Governor of Harima. He was not, however, popular in that office. In this state of affairs he reflected within himself, no doubt, that his presence in the Capital could not but be disagreeable. When, therefore, his term of office expired, he determined still to remain in the province. He did not, however, go to the mountainous regions of the interior, but chose the sea-coast. There are in this district several places which are well situated for quiet retirement, and it would have seemed inconsistent in him had he preferred a part of the sea-coast so near the gay world; nevertheless, a retreat in the too remote interior would have been too solitary, and might have met with objections on the part of his wife and child. For this reason, it appears, that he finally selected the place which I have already alluded to for the sake of his family. When I went down there last time, I became acquainted with the history and circumstances of the family, and I found that though he may not have been well received in the Capital, yet, that here, having been formerly governor, he enjoys considerable popularity and respect. His residence, moreover, is well appointed and of sufficient magnitude, and he performs with punctuality and devoutness his religious duties—nay, almost with more earnestness than many regular priests." Here Genji interrupted. "What is his daughter like?" "Without doubt," answered his companion, "the beauty of her person is unrivalled, and she is endowed with corresponding mental ability. Successive governors often offer their addresses to her with great sincerity, but no one has ever yet been accepted. The dominant idea of her father seems to be this: "What, have I sunk to such a position! Well, I trust, at least, that my only daughter may be successful and prosperous in her life!" He often told her, I heard, that if she survived him,
and if his fond hopes for her should not be realized, it would be better for her to cast herself into the sea."
Genji was much interested in this conversation, and the rest of the company laughingly said, "Ah! she is a woman who is likely to become the Queen of the Blue Main. In very truth her father must be an extraordinary being!"
The attendant who had given this account of the ex-governor and his daughter, was the son of the present Governor of the Province. He was until lately a Kurand, and this year had received the title of Jugoi. His name was Yoshikiyo, and he, too, was a man of gay habits, which gave occasion to one of his companions to observe: "Ah! perhaps you also have been trying to disappoint the hopes of the aged father." Another said, "Well, our friend has given us a long account, but we must take it with some reserve. She must be, after all, a country maiden, and all that I can give credit to is this much: that her mother may be a woman of some sense, who takes great care of the girl. I am only afraid that if any future governor should be seized with an ardent desire to possess her, she would not long remain unattached."
"What possible object could it serve if she were carried to the bottom of the sea? The natives of the deep would derive no pleasure from her charms," remarked Genji, while he himself secretly desired to behold her.
"Ay," thought his companions, "with his susceptible temperament, what wonder if this story touches him."
The day was far advanced, and the Prince prepared to leave the mountain. The Hermit, however, told him that it would be better to spend the evening in the Temple, and to be further prayed for. His attendants also supported this suggestion. So Genji made up his mind to stay there, saying, "Then I shall not return home till to-morrow."
The days at this season were of long duration, and he felt it rather tiresome to pass a whole evening in sedate society, so, under the cover of the shades of the evening, he went out of the Temple, and proceeded to the pretty building enclosed by hedges. All the attendants had been despatched home except Koremitz, who accompanied him. They peeped at this building through the hedges. In the western antechamber of the house was placed an image of Buddha, and here an evening service was performed. A nun, raising a curtain before Buddha,
offered a garland of flowers on the altar, and placing a Kiô (or Satra, i.e., Buddhist Bible) on her "arm-stool," proceeded to read it. She seemed to be rather more than forty years old. Her face was rather round, and her appearance was noble. Her hair was thrown back from her forehead and was cut short behind, which suited her very well. She was, however, pale and weak, her voice, also, being tremulous. Two maiden attendants went in and out of the room waiting upon her, and a little girl ran into the room with them. She was about ten years old or more, and wore a white silk dress, which fitted her well and which was lined with yellow. Her hair was waved like a fan, and her eyes were red from crying. "What is the matter? Have you quarrelled with the boy?" exclaimed the nun, looking at her. There was some resemblance between the features of the child and the nun, so Genji thought that she possibly might be her daughter.
"Inuki has lost my sparrow, which I kept so carefully in the cage," replied the child.
"That stupid boy," said one of the attendants. "Has he again been the cause of this? Where can the bird be gone? And all this, too, after we had tamed it with so much care." She then left the room, possibly to look for the lost bird. The people who addressed her called her Shiônagon, and she appeared to have been the little girl's nurse.
"To you," said the nun to the girl, "the sparrow may be dearer than I may be, who am so ill; but have I not told you often that the caging of birds is a sin? Be a good girl; come nearer!"
The girl advanced and stood silent before her, her face being bathed in tears. The contour of the child-like forehead and of the small and graceful head was very pleasing. Genji, as he surveyed the scene from without, thought within himself, "If she is thus fair in her girlhood, what will she be when she is grown up?" One reason why Genji was so much attracted by her was, that she greatly resembled a certain lady in the Palace, to whom he, for a long time, had been fondly attached. The nun stroked the beautiful hair of the child and murmured to herself, "How splendid it looks! Would that she would always strive to keep it thus. Her extreme youth makes me anxious, however. Her mother departed this life when she was only a very young girl, but she was quite sensible at the age
of this one. Supposing that I were to leave her behind, I wonder what would happen to her!" As she thus murmured, her countenance became saddened by her forebodings.
The sight moved Genji's sympathy as he gazed. It seemed that the tender heart of the child was also touched, for she silently watched the expression of the nun's features, and then with downcast eyes bent her face towards the ground, the lustrous hair falling over her back in waves.
The nun hummed, in a tone sufficiently audible to Genji,
Shiônagon, who now joined them, and heard the above distich, consoled the nun with the following:—
At this juncture a priest entered and said, "Do you know that this very day Prince Genji visited the hermit in order to be exorcised by him. I must forthwith go and see him."
Genji observing this movement quickly returned to the monastery, thinking as he went what a lovely girl he had seen. "I can guess from this," thought he, "why those gay fellows (referring to his attendants) so often make their expeditions in search of good fortune. What a charming little girl have I seen to-day! Who can she be? Would that I could see her morning and evening in the palace, where I can no longer see the fair loved one whom she resembles!" He now returned to the monastery, and retired to his quarters. Soon after a disciple of the priest came and delivered a message from him through Koremitz, saying, "My master has just heard of the Prince's visit to the mountain, and would have waited on him at once, but thought it better to postpone calling. Nevertheless he would be much pleased to offer a humble welcome, and feels disappointed that he has not yet had an opportunity of doing so."
Genji said in reply, "I have been afflicted with constant attacks
of ague for the last few weeks, and, therefore, by the advice of my friends, I came to this mountain to be exorcised. If, however, the spells of the holy man are of no avail to me, his reputation might suffer in consequence. For that reason I wish to keep my visit as private as possible, nevertheless I will come now to your master." Thereupon the priest himself soon made his appearance, and, after briefly relating the circumstances which had occasioned his retirement to this locality, he offered to escort Genji to his house, saying, "My dwelling is but a rustic cottage, but still I should like you to see, at least, the pretty mountain streamlet which waters my garden."
Genji accepted the offer, thinking as he went, "I wonder what the priest has said at home about myself to those to whom I have not yet been introduced. But it will be pleasant to see them once more."
The night was moonless. The fountain was lit up by torches, and many lamps also were lighted in the garden. Genji was taken to an airy room in the southern front of the building, where incense which was burning threw its sweet odors around. The priest related to him many interesting anecdotes, and also spoke eloquently of man's future destiny. Genji as he heard him, felt some qualms of conscience, for he remembered that his own conduct was far from being irreproachable. The thought troubled him that he would never be free from the sting of these recollections through his life, and that there was a world to come, too! "Oh, could I but live in a retreat like this priest!" As he thus thought of a retreat, he was involuntarily taken by a fancy, that how happy would he be if accompanied to such a retreat by such a girl as he had seen in the evening, and with this fancy her lovely face rose up before him.
Suddenly he said to the priest, "I had once a dream which made me anxious to know who was living in this house, and here to-day that dream has again come back to my memory!" The priest laughed, and said, "A strange dream! even were you to obtain your wish it might not gratify you. The late Lord Azechi Dainagon died long ago, and perhaps you know nothing about him. Well! his widow is my sister, and since her husband's death her health has not been satisfactory, so lately she has been living here in retirement.
"Ah, yes," said Genji, venturing upon a guess, "and I heard that she bore a daughter to Dainagon."
"Yes, she had a daughter, but she died about ten years ago. After her father's death the sole care of her fell upon her widowed mother alone. I know not how it came to pass, but she became secretly intimate with Prince Hiôbkiô. But the Prince's wife was very jealous and severe, so she had much to suffer and put up with. I saw personally the truth that "care kills more than labor."
"Ah, then," thought Genji, "the little one is her daughter, and no wonder that she resembles the one in the palace (because Prince Hiôbkiô was the brother of the Princess Wistaria). How would it be if I had free control over her, and had her brought up and educated according to my own notions?" So thinking, he proceeded to say how sad it was that she died! "Did she leave any offspring?"
"She gave birth to a child at her death, which was also a girl, and about this girl the grandmother is always feeling very anxious."
"Then," said Genji, "let it not appear strange to you if I say this, but I should be very happy to become the guardian of this girl. Will you speak to her grandmother about it? It is true that there is one to whom my lot is linked, but I care but little for her, and indeed usually lead a solitary life."
"Your offer is very kind," replied the priest, "but she is extremely young. However every woman grows up under the protecting care of some one, and so I cannot say much about her, only it shall be mentioned to my sister."
The priest said this with a grave and even a stern expression on his countenance, which caused Genji to drop the subject.
He then asked the Prince to excuse him, for it was the hour for vespers, and as he quitted the room to attend the service, said he would return as soon as it was finished.
Genji was alone. A slight shower fell over the surrounding country, and the mountain breezes blew cool. The waters of the torrent were swollen, and the roar of them might be heard from afar. Broken and indistinct, one might hear the melancholy sound of the sleepy intonation of prayers. Even those people who have no sorrow of their own often feel melancholy from the circumstances in which they are placed. So Genji, whose mind was occupied in thought, could not slumber here. The priest said he was going to vespers, but in reality it was later than the proper time for them. Genji perceived that the
inmates had not yet retired to rest in the inner apartments of the house. They were very quiet, yet the sound of the telling of beads, which accidentally struck the lectern, was heard from time to time. The room was not far from his own. He pulled the screen slightly aside, and standing near the door, he struck his fan on his hand, to summon some one.
"What can be the matter," said an attendant, and as she came near to the Prince's room she added, "Perhaps my ear was deceived," and she began to retire.
"Buddha will guide you; fear not the darkness, I am here," said Genji.
"Sir!" replied the servant, timidly.
"Pray do not think me presumptuous," said Genji; " but may I beg you to transmit this poetical effusion to your mistress for me?
"Surely you should know, sir, that there is no one here to whom such things can be presented!"
"Believe me, I have my own reasons for this," said Genji. "Let me beseech you to take it."
So the attendant went back, and presented it to the nun.
"I do not see the real intent of the effusion," thought the nun. "Perhaps he thinks that she is already a woman. But"—she continued, wonderingly—"how could he have known about the young grass?" And she then remained silent for a while. At last, thinking it would be unbecoming to take no notice of it, she gave orally the following reply to the attendant to be given to Genji:—
When Genji heard this, he said: "I am not accustomed to receive an answer such as this through the mouth of a third person. Although I thank the lady for even that much, I should feel more obliged to her if she would grant me an interview, and allow me to explain to her my sincere wishes."
This at length obliged the nun to have an interview with the Prince. He then told her that he called Buddha to witness that, though his conduct may have seemed bold, it was dictated by pure and conscientious motives.
"All the circumstances of your family history are known to me," continued he. "Look upon me, I pray, as a substitute for your once loved daughter. I, too, when a mere infant, was deprived by death of my best friend—my mother—and the years and months which then rolled by were fraught with trouble to me. In that same position your little one is now. Allow us, then, to become friends. We could sympathize with each other. ’Twas to reveal these wishes to you that I came here, and risked the chance of offending you in doing so."
"Believe me, I am well disposed at your offer," said the nun; "but you may have been incorrectly informed. It is true that there is a little girl dependent upon myself, but she is but a child. Her society could not afford you any pleasure; and forgive me, therefore, if I decline your request."
"Yet let there be no reserve in the expression of your ideas," interrupted Genji; but, before they could talk further, the return of the priest put an end to the subject, and Genji retired to his quarters, after thanking the nun for his kind reception.
The night passed away, and dawn appeared. The sky was again hazy, and here and there melodious birds were singing among the mountain shrubs and flowers that blossomed around. The deer, too, which were to be seen here, added to the beauty of the picture. Gazing around at these Genji once more proceeded to the temple. The hermit—though too infirm to walk—again contrived to offer up his prayers on Genji's behalf, and he also read from the Darani. 1 The tremulous accents of the old man—poured forth from his nearly toothless mouth—imparted a greater reverence to his prayers.
Genji's attendants now arrived from the capital, and congratulated him on the improvement in his health. A messenger was despatched from the Imperial Palace for the same purpose. The priest now collected wild and rare fruits, not to be met with in the distant town, and, with all respect, presented them to Genji, saying: "The term of my vow has not yet expired; and I am, therefore, sorry to say that I am unable to descend the mountain with you on your departure." He then offered to him the parting cup of saké.
"This mountain, with its waters, fill me with admiration," said Genji, "and I regret that the anxiety of my father the Emperor obliges me to quit the charming scene; but before the season is past, I will revisit it: and—
To this the priest replied—
Genji smiled slightly, and said: "That is a very great compliment; but the Udon tree does not blossom so easily."
The hermit also raised the cup to his lips, and said:—
Enclosed around by mountain pine,
A blossom never seen before
My eyes behold that seems divine."
[paragraph continues] And he presented to him his toko (a small ecclesiastical wand). On seeing this, the priest also made him the following presents:—A rosary of Kongôji (a kind of precious stone), which the sage Prince Shôtok obtained from Corea, enclosed in the original case in which it had been sent from that country; some medicine of rare virtue in a small emerald jar; and several other objects, with a spray of Wistaria, and a branch of cherry blossoms.
Genji, too, on the other hand, made presents, which he had ordered from the capital, to the hermit and his disciples who had taken part in the religious ceremonies, and also to the poor mountaineers. He also sent the following to the nun, by the priest's page
A reply from the nun was speedily brought to him, which ran thus:—
While this was being presented to him in his carriage, a few more people came, as if accidentally, to wait upon him on his journey. Among them was Tô-no-Chiûjiô, and his brother Ben, who said: "We are always pleased to follow you; it was unkind of you to leave us behind."
Just as the party were on the point of starting, some of them observed that it was a pity to leave so lovely a spot without resting awhile among the flowers. This was immediately agreed to, and they took their seats on a moss-grown rock, a short distance from which a little streamlet descended in a murmuring cascade.
They there began to drink saké, and Tô-no-Chiûjiô taking his flute, evoked from it a rich and melodious strain; while Ben, tapping his fan in concert, sang "The Temple of Toyora," while the Prince, as he leaned against a rock, presented a picturesque appearance, though he was pale and thin.
Among the attendants was one who blew on a long flute, called Hichiriki, and another on a Shiô flute. The priest brought a koto, and begged Genji to perform upon it, saying: "If we are to have music at all, let us have a harmonious concert." Genji said that he was no master of music; but, nevertheless, he played, with fair ability, a pleasing air. Then they all rose up, and departed.
After they had quitted the mountain, Genji first of all went to the Palace, where he immediately had an interview with the Emperor, who considered his son to be still weak in health; and who asked him several questions with regard to the efficacy of the prayers of the reverend hermit. Genji gave him all particulars of his visit to the mountain.
"Ah!" said the Emperor, " he may some day be entitled to become a dean (Azali). His virtue and holiness have not yet been duly appreciated by the government and the nation."
Sadaijin, the father-in-law of the Prince, here entered, and entreated Genji to accompany him to his mansion, and spend a few days. Genji did not feel very anxious to accept this invitation,
but was persuaded to do so. Sadaijin conveyed him in his own carriage, and gave up to him the seat of honor.
They arrived; but, as usual, his bride did not appear, and only presented herself at last at the earnest request of her father. She was one of those model princesses whom one may see in a picture—very formal and very sedate—and it was very difficult to draw her into conversation. She was very uninteresting to Genji. He thought that it would only lead to a very unpleasant state of affairs, as years grew on, if they were to be as cool and reserved to each other as they had been hitherto. Turning to her, he said, with some reproachfulness in his accents, "Surely you should sometimes show me a little of the ordinary affection of people in our position!"
She made no reply; but, glancing coolly upon him, murmured with modest, yet dignified, tone—
"Your words are few; but they have a sting in them. You say I cease to care for you; but you do me wrong in saying so. May the time come when you will no longer pain me thus," said Genji; and he made every effort to conciliate her. But she was not easily appeased. He was unsuccessful in his effort, and presently they retired to their apartment, where he soon relapsed into sleepy indifference. His thoughts began to wander back into other regions, and hopes of the future growth and charms of the young mountain-violet again occupied his mind. "Oh! how difficult it is to secure a prize," thought he. "How can I do so? Her father, Prince Hiôbkiô, is a man of rank, and affable, but he is not of prepossessing appearance. Why does his daughter resemble so much, in her personal attractions, the lovely one in the chamber of Wistaria. Is it that the mother of her father and of Wistaria is the same person? How charming is the resemblance between them! How can I make her mine?"
Some days afterwards he sent a letter to the mountain home, and also a communication—perhaps with some hint in it—to the priest. In his letter to the nun he said that her indifference made it desirable to refrain from urging his wishes; but, nevertheless, that he should be deeply gratified if she would think more favorably of the idea which was now so deeply rooted in
his mind. Inside the letter he enclosed a small folded slip of paper, on which was written:—
This ludicrous effusion caused the nun to be partly amused and partly vexed. She wrote an answer as follows:—
"When you came into our neighborhood your visit was very pleasing to us, and your special message does us honor. I am, however, at a loss how to express myself with regard to the little one, as yet she cannot even manage the naniwadz." 3
Enclosed in the note were the following lines, in which she hinted as to her doubts of the steadfastness of Genji's character:
The tenor of the priest's answer was much the same, and it caused Genji some vexation.
About this time the Lady Wistaria, in consequence of an attack of illness, had retired from the palace to her private residence, and Genji, while sympathizing with the anxiety of the Emperor about her, longed greatly for an opportunity of seeing her, ill though she was. Hence at this time he went nowhere, but kept himself in his mansion at Nijiô, and became thoughtful and preoccupied. At length he endeavored to cajole Ô Miôbu, Wistaria's attendant, into arranging an opportunity for him to see her. On Wistaria's part there were strong doubts as to the propriety of complying with his request, but at last the earnestness of the Prince overcame her scruples, and Ô Miôbu managed eventually to bring about a meeting between them. 4
Genji gave vent to his feelings to the Princess, as follows:—
Then the Princess replied to him, full of sadness:—
For some time after this meeting had taken place, Genji found himself too timid to appear at his father's palace, and remained in his mansion. The Princess, too, experienced a strong feeling of remorse. She had, moreover, a cause of anxiety special in its nature and peculiar to herself as a woman, for which she alone felt some uneasiness of conscience.
Three months of the summer had passed away, and her secret began to betray itself externally. The Emperor was naturally anxious about the health of his favorite, and kind inquiries were sent from time to time to her. But the kinder he was to her the more conscience-stricken she felt.
Genji at this time was often visited by strange dreams. When he consulted a diviner about them, he was told that something remarkable and extraordinary might happen to him, and that it behooved him to be cautious and prudent.
"Here is a pretty source of embarrassment," thought Genji.
He cautioned the diviner to be discreet about it, especially because he said the dreams were not his own but another person's. When at last he heard authentically about the condition of the Princess, he was extremely anxious to communicate with her, but she now peremptorily objected to any kind of correspondence between them, and O Miôbu too refused any longer to assist him.
In July Wistaria returned to the palace. There she was received by the Emperor with great rejoicing, and he thought that her condition did but add to her attractiveness.
It was now autumn, the season when agreeable receptions were often held by the Emperor in Court, and it was awkward when Genji and the Princess happened to face each other on these occasions, as neither of them could be free from their tender recollections.
During these autumn evenings the thoughts of Genji were often directed to the granddaughter of the nun, especially because she resembled the Princess so much. His desire to possess her was considerably increased, and the recollection
of the first evening when he heard the nun intoning to herself the verses about the tender grass, recurred to his mind. "What," thought he, "if I pluck this tender grass, would it then be, would it then grow up, as fair as now."
The Emperor's visit to the Palace Suzak-in was now announced to take place in October, and dancers and musicians were selected from among the young nobles who were accomplished in these arts, and Royal Princes and officers of State were fully engaged in preparation for the fête. After the Royal festivities, a separate account of which will be given hereafter, he sent again a letter to the mountain. The answer, however, came only from the priest, who said that his sister had died on the twentieth day of the last month; and added that though death is inevitable to all of us, still he painfully felt her loss.
Genji pondered first on the precariousness of human life, and then thought how that little one who had depended on her must be afflicted, and gradually the memory of his own childhood, during which he too had lost his mother, came back to his mind.
When the time of full mourning was over, Shiônagon, together with the young girl, returned to their house in the capital. There one evening Genji paid them a visit. The house was rather a gloomy one, and was tenanted by fewer inmates than usual.
"How timid the little girl must feel!" thought Genji, as he was shown in. Shiônagon now told him with tearful eyes every circumstance which had taken place since she had seen him. She also said that the girl might be handed over to her father, who told her that she must do so, but his present wife was said to be very austere. The girl is not young enough to be without ideas and wishes of her own, but yet not old enough to form them sensibly; so were she to be taken to her father's house and be placed with several other children, much misery would be the result. Her grandmother suffered much on this account. "Your kindness is great," continued she, "and we
ought not, perhaps, to think too anxiously about the future. Still she is young, too young, and we cannot think of it without pity."
"Why do you recur to that so often? " said Genji, "it is her very youthfulness which moves my sympathy. I am anxious to talk to her,
[paragraph continues] How sweet it would be! "
"That is very beautifully put, sir," said Shiônagon, "but,
Meanwhile the girl, who was with her companions in her apartment, and who was told that a gentleman in Court dress had arrived, and that perhaps it was the Prince, her father, came running in, saying, "Shiônagon, where is the gentleman in Court dress; has the Prince, my father, arrived?"
"Not the Prince, your father," uttered Genji, "but I am here, and I too am your friend. Come here!"
The girl, glancing with shy timidity at Genji, for whom she already had some liking, and thinking that perhaps there was impropriety in what she had spoken, went over to her nurse, and said, "Oh! I am very sleepy, and wish to lie down!"
"See how childish she still is," remarked Shiônagon.
"Why are you so timid, little one, come here and sleep on my knees," said Genji.
"Go, my child, as you are asked," observed Shiônagon, and she pushed her towards Genji.
Half-unconsciously she took her place by his side. He pushed aside a small shawl which covered her hair, and played with her long tresses, and then he took her small hand in his. "Ah, my hand!" cried she, and drawing it back, she ran into a neighboring room. Genji followed her, and tried to coax her out of her shyness, telling her that he was one of her best friends, and that she was not to be so timid.
By this time darkness had succeeded to the beautiful evening, and hail began to fall.
"Close the casement, it is too fearful, I will watch over you this evening," said Genji, as he led the girl away, to the great surprise of Shiônagon and others who wondered at his ease in doing this.
By and by she became sleepy, and Genji, as skilfully as any nurse could, removed all her outer clothing, and placed her on the couch to sleep, telling her as he sat beside her, "some day you must come with me to some beautiful palace, and there you shall have as many pictures and playthings as you like." Many other similar remarks he added to arrest her attention and to please her.
Her fears gradually subsided, and as she kept looking on the handsome face of Genji, and taking notice of his kindness, she did not fall asleep for some time.
When the night was advanced, and the hailstorm had passed away, Genji at last took his departure. The temperature now suddenly changed, and the hail was lying white upon the grass. "Can it be," thought he, "that I am leaving this place as a lover?" At that moment he remembered that the house of a maiden with whom he had had an acquaintance was on his road home. When he came near to it he ordered one of his attendants to knock at the door. No one, however, came forth. Thereupon Genji turned to another, who had a remarkably good voice, and ordered him to sing the following lines:—
This was repeated twice, when presently a man came to the door and sang, in reply, as follows:—
[paragraph continues] And then went in, slamming the door in their faces, and appearing no more. Genji, therefore disappointed, proceeded on his way home.
On the morrow he took up his pen to write a letter to Violet, but finding that he had nothing in particular to say, he laid it aside, and instead of a letter several beautiful pictures were sent for her.
From this time Koremitz was sent there very often, partly to do them service, and partly to watch over their movements. At last the time when the girl's father was to take her home approached within a night, and Shiônagon was busily occupied in sewing a dress for the girl, and was thus consequently unable to take much notice of Koremitz when he arrived. Noting these preparatory arrangements, Koremitz at once hastened to inform Genji about them. He happened to be this evening at the mansion of Sadaijin, but Lady Aoi was not, as was often the case, with him, and he was amusing himself there with thumping a wagon as he sang a "Hitachi" song. Koremitz presented himself before him, and gave him the latest information of what was going on.
Genji, when he had listened to Koremitz, thought, "This will never do; I must not lose her in this way. But the difficulty is indeed perplexing. If, on the one hand, she goes to her father, it will not become me to ask him for her. If, on the other hand, I carry her off, people may say that I stole her. However, upon consideration, this latter plan, if I can manage to shut people's mouths beforehand, will be much better than that I should demand her from her father."
So, turning to Koremitz, he said, "I must go there. See that the carriage is ready at whatever hour I may appoint. Let two or three attendants be in readiness." Koremitz, having received these orders, retired.
Long before dawn broke, Genji prepared to leave the mansion. Lady Aoi, as usual, was a little out of temper, but Genji told her that he had some particular arrangements to make at his mansion at Nijiô, but that he would soon return to her. He soon started, Koremitz alone following him on horseback.
On their arrival Koremitz proceeded to a small private entrance and announced himself. Shiônagon recognized his voice and came out, and upon this he informed her that the Prince had come. She, presuming that he did so only because he happened to pass by them, said, "What! at this late hour? " As she spoke, Genji came up and said:—
"I hear that the little one is to go to the Prince, her father, and I wish to say a few words to her before she goes."
"She is asleep; really, I am afraid that she cannot talk with you at this hour. Besides, what is the use?" replied Shiônagon, with a smile.
Genji, however, pressed his way into the house, saying:—
"Perhaps the girl is not awake yet, but I will awake her," and, as the people could not prevent his doing so, he proceeded to the room where she was unconsciously sleeping on a couch. He shook her gently. She started up, thinking it was her father who had come.
Genji pushed the hair back from her face, as he said to her, "I am come from your father;" but this she knew to be false, and was alarmed. "Don't be frightened," said Genji; "there is nothing in me to alarm you." And in spite of Shiônagon's request not to disturb her, he lifted her from the couch, abruptly saying that he could not allow her to go elsewhere, and that he had made up his mind that he himself would be her guardian. He also said she should go with him, and that some of them should go with her.
Shiônagon was thunderstruck. "We are expecting her father to-morrow, and what are we to say to him?" She added, "Surely, you can find some better opportunity to manage matters than this."
"All right, you can come afterward; we will go first," retorted Genji, as he ordered his carriage to drive up.
Shiônagon was perplexed, and Violet also cried, thinking how strange all this was. At last Shiônagon saw it was no use to resist, and so having hurriedly changed her own dress for a better one, and taking with her the pretty dress of Violet which she had been making in the evening, got into the carriage, where Genji had already placed the little one.
It was no great distance to Nijiô, and they arrived there before dawn. The carriage was driven up to the western wing of the mansion. To Shiônagon the whole affair seemed like a dream. "What am I to do?" she said to Genji, who teasingly answered, "What you choose. You may go if you like; so long as this darling is here I am content." Genji lifted the girl out and carried her into the house. That part of the mansion in which they now were, had not been inhabited, and the
furniture was scanty and inappropriate; so, calling Koremitz, the Prince ordered him to see that proper furniture was brought. The beds were therefore taken from the eastern wing, where he himself lived.
Day broke, and Shiônagon surveyed with admiration all the magnificence with which she was surrounded. Both the exterior of the building and its internal arrangements left nothing to be desired. Going to the casement, she saw the gravelled walks flashing brightly in the sun. "Ah," thought she, "where am I amidst all this splendor? This is too grand for me!"
Bath water for their ablutions, and rice soup were now brought into the apartment, and Genji afterward made his appearance.
"What! no attendants? No one to play with the girl? I will send some," and he then ordered some young persons from the eastern wing of the mansion. Four accordingly came.
Violet was still fast asleep in her night-dress, and now Genji gently shook and woke her. "Do not be frightened any more," he said quietly to her; "a good girl would not be so, but would know that it is best to be obedient." She became more and more pleasing to him, and he tried to please her by presenting to her a variety of pretty pictures and playthings, and by consulting her wishes in whatever she desired. She was still wearing the dress of mourning, of sombre color and of soft material, and it was only now at last that she began to smile a little, and this filled Genji with delight. He now had to return to the eastern wing, and Violet, for the first time, went to the casement and looked out on the scenery around. The trees covered with foliage, a small lake, and the plantations round about expanded before her as in a picture. Here and there young people were going in and out. "Ah! what a pretty place," she exclaimed, charmed as she gazed around. Then, turning again into the apartment, she saw beautiful pictures painted on the screens and walls, which could not but please her.
Genji did not go to the Palace for two or three days, but spent his time in trying to train Violet. "She must soon take lessons in writing," he thought, and he wrote several writing copies for her. Among these was one in plain characters on
violet-colored paper, with the title, "Musashi-no" (The field of Musashi is known for its violets). She took it up, and in handwriting plain and clear though small, she found the following:
"Come, you must write one now," said Genji.
"I cannot write well enough," said Violet, looking up at him, with an extremely charming look.
"Never mind, whether good or bad," said he, "but still write something, to refuse is unkind. When there is any difficulty I will help you through with it."
Thereupon she turned aside shyly and wrote something, handling the pen gracefully with her tiny fingers. "I have done it badly," she cried out, and tried to conceal what she had written, but Genji insisted on seeing it and found the following:—
[paragraph continues] This was, of course, written in a childish hand, but the writing was large and plain, giving promise of future excellence.
"How like her grandmother's it is," thought Genji. "Were she to take lessons from a good professor she might become a master of the art."
He ordered for her a beautiful doll's house, and played with her different innocent and amusing games.
In the meantime, the Prince, her father, had duly arrived at the old home of Violet and asked for her. The servants were embarrassed, but as they had been requested by Genji not to tell, and as Shiônagon had also enjoined them to keep silence, they simply told him that the nurse had taken her and absconded. The Prince was greatly amazed, but he remembered that the girl's grandmother never consented to send his daughter to his house, and knowing Shiônagon to be a shrewd and intelligent woman, he concluded that she had found out the reasons which influenced her, and that so out of respect to her, and out of dislike to tell him the reason of it, she had carried the girl off in order that she might be kept away from him. He therefore merely told the servants to inform him at once if they heard anything about them, and he returned home,
Our story again brings us back to Nijiô. The girl gradually became reconciled to her new home, as she was most kindly treated by Genji. True, during those evenings when Genji was absent she thought of her dead grandmother, but the image of her father never presented itself to her, as she had seldom seen him. And now, naturally enough, Genji, whom she had learned to look upon as a second father, was the only one for whom she cared. She was the first to greet him when he came home, and she came forward to be fondled and caressed by him without shame or diffidence. Girls at her age are usually shy and under restraint, but with her it was quite different. And again, if a girl has somewhat of jealousy in her disposition, and looks upon every little trifle in a serious light, a man will have to be cautious in his dealings with her, and she herself, too, will often have to undergo vexation. Thus many disagreeable and unexpected incidents might often result. In the case of Violet, however, things were very different, and she was ever amiable and invariably pleasant.
103:1 An Indian theological writing.
104:2 In the Buddhist Bible it is stated that there is in Paradise a divine tree, called Udon, which rarely blossoms. When, however, it does blossom, Buddha is said to appear in the world, therefore we make use of this expression when referring to any rare event.
107:3 The name of a song which in those days formed the first lesson in writing.
107:4 The authoress represents her in a subsequent chapter as suffering punishment in the next world for this sin. The real cause of Genii's exile is also supposed to have resulted from the same sin.