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Title: A spring-time case

(Otsuya koroshi)

Author: Jun'ichiro Tanizaki

Translator: Z. Tamotsu Iwado

Release date: March 10, 2024 [eBook #73132]
Most recently updated: July 14, 2024

Language: English

Original publication: Tokyo: The Japan Times, 1927


Transcriber’s Notes

Cover created by Transcriber and placed into the Public Domain.

Table of Contents added by Transcriber and placed into the Public Domain.

Corrected text is marked with a dotted underlined. A list of corrections can be found at the end of this eBook.

Other notes may be found at the end of this eBook.

new cover

The Japan Times’ Series

A Spring-Time Case






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

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

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

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


Tokyo, June, 1927.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kamakura, May, 1927.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



PART V 135
Transcriber’s Notes


Part I



IT was around the tolling of the fifth hour in the early evening that a fish monger, of the next street, in a flush of drink and a rush of self-imposed urgency, sped into the pawn-broking shop of Suruga-ya on one of his visits, which were more regular than his financial programme ever seemed to be. He jingled money in his breast pocket, singled forth two silver pieces, quite bright and new, just given him, as he explained, by an officer living in the Ginza way, and asked back such of his dress things as he was evidently to need for the New Year’s holidays,—livery coat, outer gown, and so forth, now neglected for three months in pledge. After he left, the business part of the Suruga-ya, usually so lively, was again to remain quiet without a single more caller to break the stillness, a thing probably accountable by the bad weather that evening. Shinsuké who had been buried in reading, his face between his hands, just behind the counter railing, literature served in a yellow paper cover of no more importance than its [4]author, now remembered the little brazier under his nose and, trying to stir up the fire, well-nigh gone out, muttered to himself, “What a cold evening!” Then, reaching out his hand to the apprentice boy, sitting two or three feet off, dozing away in an undisturbed nap, Shinsuké pulled his ear.

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

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

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

In the meantime, Shinsuké straightened up the [5]things on the counter, put the padlock on the store-house, and closed the main entrance door on the street. “We shall be late coming home to-night, may even have to stay over till to-morrow morning;—see carefully that the doors are all fastened, and everything is in order”: said his master in the early evening, when he was leaving with his wife, on their visit to a relative over in Yotsuya, just gone into mourning. Remembering this parting order, Shinsuké, a lantern in hand, set out looking carefully around, from the kitchen door to the back entrance gate, up the flight of steps leading from the maids’ quarters, to the doors on the balcony perched on the roof for clothes line, making sure of bars and bolts everywhere. As he retraced his way down the steps, his lantern threw its dim light bringing out of the darkness the faces of two servant maids, slumbering away so comfortably under heavy bed-clothes.

“Are you already asleep, O-Tami don[2]?” His query, though voiced in a tone raised above the [6]ordinary, received no response. Softening his footfalls even more carefully, through the hallway, whose wood floor was so cold for his bare feet to hug, he came round to look over a train of sliding panels that screened the verandah from a space of inner garden.

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

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

He had now for a full year nursed a deep love for Tsuya whose feeling toward him was as tender and enduring. However madly they might love one another, his master’s daughter was out of his [7]reach. Had he been born to a family of name and means, he would claim this beautiful Tsuya as his own. It was his wont thus to lament his own misfortunes in life.

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

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

“Yes, it is myself. The master’s late, and I thought I should go around to make sure about [8]the doors.”

“You’re ready to turn in, now?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tsuya, covered only by her under-robe of bright [9]red dappled crepe which clung close to the lines of her form, sat unmindful of her white feet peeking out, in their dainty arrangement, from under the quilts, as she put her hands together, as in the manner of prayer offering.

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

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

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

“Impossible,” he said; but he was really troubled to think how he might steel himself against what seemed to tempt him with a stupendous force of voluptuous bewitchery. Since he came into the service here, as a young lad of fourteen, he had got on so well that his master had come to repose in him so much confidence as he would do in few young men. A year or two more of patience and good work, and his master would set him up in business and, if he could not have the happiness of marrying the lovely Tsuya, he would be on his way to whatever [10]fortune and name he might desire. What, then, would be the happiness of his old parents who were living only in hopes of such time? The idea of taking advantage of a girl still too young, the daughter of his own master, was preposterous; he could not—he should not do it; repeatedly he told himself.

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

“It is nothing of the sort that—”

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

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

It was after some moments of a tender struggle [11]that he could detach himself from Tsuya’s clinging hands. Returning to the front part of the house, again fully composed, he hastened to open the small side-door.

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

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

It was about an hour later that the young apprentice, having done justice to his share of the mid-night repast, crawled into bed and fell asleep. The wind seemed to have blown itself out; but the snow was evidently going on, for a dead stillness had settled outside on the streets whence all life had been driven off to slumber. Shinsuké came back with a few lumps of charcoal which he had taken out of the trap in the kitchen floor. When they were fed to the fire in his brazier, he crouched down because he knew no better, a helpless, lone figure in a corner of the shop. Even as he remained at such a pause, his thoughts went out to the back quarters of the house where the young mistress must be awaiting him, with no thought of sleep. With [12]those things racing through his mind, he felt himself besieged by the force of his own fate—a fate that seemed to come on and over him now to determine the course of his life for all time. If only his master would come back soon, this dreadful temptation would of itself pass away; his thoughts would, in some moments, take on such complexion.

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

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

Tsuya pulled her hands back into her sleeves, and, bulging out the black satin trimmings across her breast, took out of the depths of her bosom a purse of yellow cloth which was almost thrust into his hands. Its weight could not be [13]of less than ten large gold pieces[3].

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

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

In speaking of Fukagawa, they had in mind the home of a certain boatman living in that part of Fukagawa which is called Takabashi. Seiji, the boatman in case, had been patronized by the Suruga-ya family for ten long years. What with clam-gathering picnics to the sand-bars around the forts of Shinagawa and the customary parties [14]at the river festivity of Ryogoku, he had made himself familiar with Tsuya and Shinsuké. In addition to the calls he was in custom to make at the time of the “Bon”[5] holidays and just before the New Year, he would occasionally pay his respects to the Suruga-ya. It was his wont as much as his privilege to seat himself, on such occasions, in a corner of the kitchen over a treat of drinks, and plunge into an open admiration of the beautiful daughter of the house.

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

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

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

A man trading on river traffic, running wherries to carry fares going up to and coming from Yanagibashi, Fukagawa, Sanya, Yoshiwara, the gay quarters clustered along and about the only watercourse of the town, and living mostly within the pale of a world where wine flowed and folks feared not to talk of sins, the boathouse master Seiji was a man of enough understanding, [16]and he may well have sensed, for some time now, the love that had secretly been growing between the young lady of the family and the young man. However, he breathed never a word about it, in any way, if he did know, strangely enough of a man who enjoyed so much to talk. The first time that he ever came out with his knowledge of the affair was about a month ago when he paid one of his casual visits, after what he said had been a trip to Yanagibashi, and gave airing to what had lain in the back of his head. For that day, the family had planned a theatre party, from which Tsuya excused herself under a feigned pretext of illness; for a chance to be alone in the company of Shinsuké was too precious. Not to disappoint the whole family on her sole account, her parents took their two maids instead, and went out to the theatre in the early morning.[7] The shop had been left in charge of the little Shota alone, while Shinsuké had been spending most of his time at the bedside of Tsuya, charged with what was termed as nursing the ill young [17]lady. It was just at one of such times that the boatman Seiji tripped in, his face florid and jolly, as usual, from drinking. He ahemed, smirked, and went straight in to slap the young man on the shoulder.

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

Taken quite off their guard, the young pair helplessly looked at one another, as they felt cold shudders run down their backs. Seiji, however, [18]framed himself in an air of so knowing assurance and worked himself up into voluble exuberance, for the reason he seemed to know the best.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you mean to back out, now?”

As she spoke, she clasped the wrists of the man [20]who still lingered in a pensive attitude, his hands folded and his head drooped low. With her form bent over, like a bamboo bough under a heavy weight, she leaned herself against him. She fidgeted, fretted, and shook him, threatening with “I’ll kill myself, if you don’t come.”

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

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

The sight of the girl at a pause there. He was almost aghast to think that she meant to go out in this bitterly cold weather in such attire; her hair bared to be seen in its freshly made coiffure, [21]silk checker dress of bright gold and black, heavy sash of brocaded satin girt just below the breast,—and nothing to cover her feet.[9] She who had always shown, with a woman’s instinct, a partiality for the piquant manner of the geisha, would assert her taste even before such a venture.

“Come, here is our way,” said Shinsuké, as he dropped into the garden, by pushing the doors open two or three feet at the end of the verandah. The snow which had been going on without stir or noise, had already lain to a depth of a few inches. Wattle-fence, shrub-beds, and the wainscoted walls round the verandah corner were all covered with an alabaster mantle. He felt for the feet of the girl who sat over the edge of the verandah. In the faintest half-light of the snow, he managed to place the soft, but icy, soles of her feet over the bottom of clogs. And it was with tremulous hearts that they measured each step that made a slish-slash as it sank into the snow. At last, they made their way as far as the little gate in the back-side wall. Through this and [22]crossing a line of board-walk over a sewer passage, cautious of any noise, they stole out into the open street.

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

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

When they had crossed the New Great Bridge, there came eight strokes of midnight. The clanging [23]note of the bell, floating out and far in its resonant roar, seemed to summon to its wild shriek the soul of the water, now swelled to its full on a flow of sea tide, with its bosom bared to the falling snow, moved on with a chill and stillness of death.

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

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


Part II



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

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

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

It was a piece of suspicion that had begun to [28]dawn upon Shinsuké’s mind. Tsuya, however, would take the situation in a more philosophical vein.

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

Since coming to this new abode, Tsuya had completely changed; she was more buoyant, jolly and bold. Their window looked down, almost straight below, upon a stone built bank which rose sharp over a narrow canal running into the Sumida river. Hither would daily be brought a swarm of roofed wherries to take on parties of men and geisha who had brought with them the spirit of the gay quarters in Fukagawa and up the river. Nor was it a rare happening that some of these parties should take up rooms partitioned from the young pair’s room only by the doors of paper screen, and plunge into a free and open jollity, as careless as it was [29]annoying. It was not long before Tsuya began to pick many ways and manners from these people she saw or heard. Her hair which was done in a maiden style when she left her home soon had to be changed. On the fourth day after she came here, she had her hair washed and combed back into an easy knot at the back of her head, with only a single comb stuck in side-wise, a style of comfort at the expense of decorum. Donning a dressing gown of garish pattern that the boatman’s wife offered her against the cold and the frequent practice of smoking crowned her attempt to imitate what was thought to be the “at home” manners of a geisha. When she picked up some words from the vernacular of the prostitute class and unwittingly used them a couple or so times, Shinsuké thought he should step in and call a halt.

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

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

So time wore on. The busy year-end was fast [31]pressing on. The market day of the Hachiman shrine on the fifteenth of December was past. Still there was no news they had so anxiously awaited.

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

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

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

No matter how perplexing and difficult the question may have become, old folks would certainly detest the idea of dragging it on into New Year, the time of all times, and let it darken their life when they were particularly anxious to call in happy auspices. Everything would, therefore, be settled, they reasoned, before the [33]year would be over, at the latest. Shinsuké hugged such hopes and anxiously awaited the dawn of the year which seemed to hold forth so many promises.

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

It was three days after this, at an early hour of the evening, Shinsuké and Tsuya were about to sit at table, when Santa, one of the hired boatmen, came clattering up the stairs. “I have brought good news for you,” he told to Shinsuké. “I have just got a word from our Boss. He is now with your father at the restaurant Kawacho, [34]up the Yanagibashi way. It is going on nicely, he says, and thinks the thing is likely to be settled. So he tells me to get you in a boat and come over there straight away. But he thinks, if two of you came, it might be a bit awkward to carry on the talk. Sorry for the young lady, he says, but he will ask her to stay here.” “A bit of a rest up for your dear man, I say,” he turned to Tsuya. “Evening off once in a blessed while won’t be anybody’s heart-break.”

“But I fear something,—somehow,” Tsuya said, as a sudden change came over her look, sinking in a depressed mood. It was good news, to be true, yet who was to know but things might not take just such a turn that her Shinsuké’s going should be for all time, that he might not be taken away back to his father’s home. Fear seized her; and there were fears that pressed on her mind. Nor was Shinsuké in any better condition of mind. It was for this very moment that he had so longed for, to be sure; yet, brought face to face with it, he felt himself helpless against a series of fears that loomed to cast grim shadows over his mind. What appeared to him the most misgiving part of it all in prospect, was the idea of brazenly dragging himself before his father to [35]ask for his grace, without having obtained the forgiveness of his master against whom he had perpetrated such wrongs as he shuddered to think of. Insistently pressed on by Santa who kept saying, “Hurry, as fast as we can make it!”, the young man but briefly fitted himself up and went down the stairs concealing within him a leaden heart.

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

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

“Aha, ha! What should I hear but this stuff and nonsense, young lady?” Santa, who had regardlessly sprung into the wherry, guffawed, even as he began to untie the fastening rope. “You’re at the tricks of a spoilt child,—but you sure don’t mean it! No trouble for me or anything, I tell you; but what is all this fuss for? As if somebody were going to gobble him up! Just leave it to my Boss, and everything will be [36]all right. You ought to see—I know, you do see—that your going there would simply mean poking a stick in the wheel—when it’s going on famously, too!”

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

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

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

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

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

“You may depend on me—,” replied Shinsuké, giving an emphatic nod. “Not that I fear anything like that, though.” Night of all nights, with the wish of his long yearning heart about to be granted!—he might well have been pleased and happy, what time he really wanted to cry from a sinking heart. Why could he not take Tsuya right here and now and run away again, [38]he even asked himself; for, he felt, whereby his mind might be relieved of its weight.

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

By the time the boat had cleared the mouth of the canal to glide out into the mid-stream of [39]the great river, Shinsuké had discovered himself wrapt in the void expanse of blackness, his eyes fastened upon a tiny speck of light that his long pipe gave, with a mind dispelled of cheer.

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

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

The restaurant Kawacho, of Yanagibashi, was in those days one of the resorts of fashion. Shinsuké had been there two or three times in his master’s train, while he was in the service. That Santa was a familiar character here was patent; when he was hailed by waiting maids while making his way through the hallway, he [40]hurled at them a teasing remark, quite to Shinsuké’s embarrassment, saying, “I’ve brought for you to-night, girls, a boy as handsome as any actor you love.” The two men were shown to a room looking out on the river, a tea room fitted up in the choice of woodwork and upholstered with the approval of the most fastidious taste. Seiji was discovered there sitting with his back against one of the alcove pillars, his face enlivened by a mellow flush of drinks.

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

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

The boatman had taken this evening a fare to a restaurant on the Daionji-mae, Asakusa. Taking chance of this trip, he called on Shinsuké’s parents at their home, not far from there, and got his father to come out here, which had given him as good opportunity as he could hope for. He went over the ground again with the old man, and had the thing thrashed out, well and proper. It would be hard to forgive the boy who had seduced his master’s daughter, said the father, but if the pair should stay away in disgrace, it would mean even adding to the wrongs done to the house of Suruga-ya, which he would not like to see. Should the young ones kill themselves in despair, the master’s family would lose its only heiress and go out of existence, even if the father were not to take his own sorrow into reckoning. When he thought of that side of the affair, he did not wish to hold out too strongly against them, though he realized that it would not be befitting that he should give his consent, or say one way or the other before the master of [42]the Suruga-ya should have his say about it, as it properly should be. Therefore, the father would presume only so much as to say this, that if the Suruga-ya folk meant to forgive and forget about the thing, he was ready to let his son marry into their family, even though his own family would thereby pass out; for, he felt he should place the master’s interest before his own. In fact, if he had not had to consider Seiji’s good offices and ideas about the affair, the father said that he would surely, according to the boatman’s account, ferret out his son, if he had to go to the farthest ends of the world, and tear him to pieces. “Feel for my old heart,”—the father was quoted to have said, before he had it out in a man’s cry, no longer able to check his bitter heart. Whereupon, Seiji tried to appease him by making him see things from some other angle than where he was dead set.

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

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

“See, such is the heart of a father!” Seiji commented. And those words seemed to quicken the young man to a keener sense of the wrongs of which he was guilty and of the old heart that was almost too good—a revelation, as he was led to feel. He drooped his head, bent himself [44]low upon his hands placed down in front, in an attitude of humble gratitude; tears trickled down on his bent knees.

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

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

Then, Santa’s prediction began to prove true. The sky had been completely overcast, before they were aware. The falling off of the winds was soon followed by big drops of rain that came [45]pattering upon the eaves. In no time, it grew into a torrent and began to pour down, as if the sky and the river had been turned into one sheet of water. Whilst their voices were oft deadened amidst the fury that went on with such violence as to make them marvel that their little room was not shaken up, the three men went on with their drinking, for some time yet. There were no signs of slackening in rain.

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

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

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

The two men had stayed behind for another hour or so, waiting for a visible change in the weather, when Shinsuké concluded that it would be a long waiting that brought no reward. There [46]was his unexpressed concern for Tsuya, too. He declared himself as going, sure as he was to be drenched. It was suggested that he should take the palanquin; for, Santa could just as well take his boat over to a place for the night and follow later on foot. Shinsuké would not hear of the offer, insisting to share with him the lot of the rainy journey by foot.

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

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

They spoke not to each other; for they gave all [47]their mind to the rain and darkness through which they battered their way. Only a little way down the line ere they were drenched through. Up to the end of the Ryogoku-bashi bridge; thence to the right, and now out in front of the mansion of the Lord Hosokawa. Almost in the next instant, Santa gave a little startled cry when his lantern had been blown out;—a wind should have been expected on the water front. At this late hour of night, there was neither traffic nor life to give them a light along this riverside road which was never lively or cheerful, and which was now desolated by the stormy rain. After the light was blown out, darkness pressed on them with a grim force, as if it threatened to suck them into its abysmal pitch. And was it a trick of their own minds that even the rain now appeared to beat upon their ears with a greater intensity of jarring note?

“I am sailing all right in the dark, but you should look out for yourself, Shin don,” Santa was howling the warning. “You have drunk rather heavy to-night, don’t you know?” And heavy had he drunk, it was true; as much as three pints, as he could make out. His host and Santa, out of their apparent concern for his condition, [48]repeatedly asked him, saying, “Are you all right yet?” However, he found himself in no worse a condition than a first flush; his feet hugged the earth firm and steady at each step. In fact, it was rather his companion, he thought, that needed care.

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

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

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

Shinsuké was scarcely given the time to reason out the challenge which was not to be imagined as coming from Santa. For, almost as instantly, the cold point of a blade slashed into his shoulder. A quick twist of the body had saved him from anything serious, he felt. But a sudden paralysis ran over the right half of his neck, and upward, a deadened feeling, as ripped by sharp nails, and [49]half of his face was so deadened in the same side as if it had been snapped off.

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

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

Shinsuké pushed his back against the plastered wall on a house premise, and whirled round the handle of his umbrella in frantic defence. Twice or so he trounced off the other who, however, quickly managed to close in and drive a thrust into his flesh,—somewhere in the lower part of his body. Having pinned him fast by grasping him by the bosom, the man came on cutting him up, and his blows, though not well aimed, were none the less furious. After that, neither one of them knew how it fared. They groaned and roared like two beasts pitted against each other, and filthy invectives were hurled back and forth, as their deadly struggle went on in dirt and water. Shinsuké brought his whole weight to bear upon his two hands as he wrenched the opponent’s [50]right hand to force the weapon out of his clutch. They again clinched, and again parted only to close in yet once again in desperate fury and in all that it detailed, the while Shinsuké began to feel within him such a stock of prowess as he had never imagined himself capable of. Santa who was in a worse condition from drinks began at length to lose his ground before the stronger power of sinew, until his sword was at last wrested out of his hand. Undaunted still, he hurled himself against Shinsuké. As quickly almost, he threw Santa down, rode astride his body, drove the blade through the scalp, sawed and grated therewith against the bone, even as the rat gnawed at its bone. The man was dead, quickly.

Then, Shinsuké could understand neither wherefore he had killed nor whereby he had been driven to all this atrocity. He had been goaded into a desperate decision that there was to be no escape save by killing the man; and kill him he did, as in a half dream;—that was about as far as he could make it out for himself. Apart from the shock to his nerves, he still felt in himself, despite several wounds suffered, the presence of so much animal force that he marveled, “How [51]easy a work it was to kill a man!”

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

“For our Boss I must have your head”:—these words of Santa were recalled. It was easy to see now that Seiji was anything but what he had believed him to be, and that his place must be nothing but a den of blackguards working behind [52]the mask of the boatman. It was as easy to see that Seiji had the attempt made upon his life, because he wished to work his own game with Tsuya. Seeing that the boatman excused himself from the party on the pretext of going to Koume, it was possible that something had befallen Tsuya, already. If the entire household should be involved in the conspiracy, the absence of Seiji from home would be no reason for him to sail into the place without due precaution. In any case, Shinsuké thought, it would not be so simple to see Tsuya. The longer his mind lingered on the subject, the more bitterly vexed was he with himself for allowing himself so neatly to be caught in their trap; and vexed and bitter he grew until a fierce hatred for the boatman and a passion for vengeance burst upon him.

“Kill a man kill two—what’s the difference? If necessary, I’ll strike to death that dog of the boatman. And right then and there I’ll dispatch myself for justice!” In some moments of desperation, he thought it out as far as his own end; yet, live he would at all costs until he should see Tsuya of his devoted heart. And what if he should see her never more? Before the sadness of such a thought, the passion against the boatman [53]seemed to fade out of his heart only to be filled with a painful sense of misery and desolation that was unbearable and overwhelming.

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

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

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

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

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

“Tell me where Tsu chan is.”

“Why, it’s Shin don!” she gasped; but spoke no more. On the verge of fainting, she fought for self-possession by strained effort, the while she blindly groped in mind for some wile to [55]cover up the situation. Shinsuké’s mien, however, was too forbidding and deadly to permit her such a chance. Nor did he realize it until now he discovered himself in the light of the lantern. Not only his clothes, ripped into shreds, but his own body were blotched several spots with mud, rain, and blood,—a ghastly sight unfit for any earthly being. Shinsuké gave a start to see it, but forthwith he knew he should abandon any hope to conceal his murderous deed.

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

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

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

She had once served her term in a house in the Yoshiwara, whence Seiji took her to himself upon [56]the death of his first wife. Although somewhat over-largely made, she was of white complexion, extremely attractive of figure; a woman in the early afternoon of her life, about thirty-two or three. Like a woman of strong will and nerves even to match a man’s, that she had always vauntedly claimed herself to be, she was capable of facing the situation without flinching, maintaining complete mastery over herself. It was also presumable that the woman who had always looked down on him as a lily bud of a man had accepted the profession of his killing as little more than an attempt to scare her out of her wits, and, for the very reason, made her best to present an unflinching front. Search had to be made upstairs, in any case, he considered; and he set about to bind her, hand and foot, to prevent her escape in the meantime.

“What’s this impudence from you, green clown!” She bolted upright, and rushed on to bring down the thing to which she had accredited so little of manhood. But with a blow dealt on her spine with such magnificent force that nearly knocked her senseless, she rolled off in a heap to the mercy of the man. The killing of one man had turned him into an adept at the trick of [57]adroitly bending, twisting, squeezing, knee-pressing the human body. It was with little ado that Shinsuké bound the woman, hand and foot, and gagged her.

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

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

The woman had remained in unperturbed [58]silence, with her eyes closed. It was some moments ere she partly opened her eyes at him, narrowing them into a gleam of hatred, and said: “I’m the sort too good to be monkeyed with by a snivelling jackass like you that’s yet wet behind the ears! You sang of killing,—well, nobody stops you.” Her eyes were again closed. She stirred not, firm as stone. It occurred to him suddenly that he had overlooked, in his search, the quarters given for the servant maids, and that it would be more fruitful to intimidate the maids than this hard-hearted wench. He flew over there. And strangely enough, again, he found there not one of the three maids who were wont to sleep there. There was little doubt that the hired members had been sent out ostensibly on errands, to be kept out of the way of conspiracy. Shinsuké then came back where the woman was and, for his own reason, unbound her at once. Throwing himself down before her, his head low to the floor, he put his hands together in the gesture of supplication, even in the manner and humbleness of a road-side beggar.

“Forgive me, I pray!” he was fervent. “I repent what I have done to you. I repent, I pray you—see how I pray you!—For mercy’s sake, don’t be [59]angry with me any more! Have pity—have a heart—just tell me where my Tsuya is! That’s all I ask,—I pray you!”

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

“Why this pretending now?—what’s the use? It doesn’t take much wits to see that you are all in on this frame-up to take my girl away somewhere. Now, don’t you see how honest and fair I have been trying to be with you? Didn’t I tell you the first thing I came that I was here after killing Santa? Not that I want to find Tsuya and work any funny idea with her; nor that I want to catch your husband and square my account with him for what he’s done against me. I’m asking you this because I want to—I must—see my Tsuya—just once again while I live—to say a good-bye to her; for, to-morrow I’m going to give myself up to the magistrate. Now, just think of this, will you?—if I have something against you people, you can’t certainly charge any wrong against me. And when this man is asking you the last wish of his life, how can you not do it? Do this for me, and I will give you a man’s word that I will never tell anything to drag you or your [60]husband into trouble no matter what torture I may have to suffer in court.”

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

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

The woman had visibly grown emboldened. It was in the attitude of defiant insolence that she faced him, her hands thrust into her bosom. Her voice was charged with icy mockery, as she said: “Where’s my husband, you ask?—He goes out every night, nowadays; you can’t expect me to keep track of him. As for Tsu chan, she said she was going as far as Hirokoji to a show, when she went out in the early evening, taking the maids along. But seeing that she’s so late, there [61]has happened something wrong, I presume.”

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

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

“And is she not the wife of that man, Seiji? If she gives up her ghost for that man, I’ll be safe to take vengeance for whatever wrongs may have been done to Tsuya. That look of the [62]woman—with her chin stuck out, so insolent and proud, so cursedly sure of herself yet not sure at all of her own life about to be ended;—humour! And only a twist round her neck, one pressing on it—and there will be nothing of her but a carcass! All that is extremely funny!”

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

Once the deed completed, he suddenly felt himself fagged out, exhaustion no doubt coming in the wake of all the strain he had had to bear throughout. “I am a criminal of heavy offence”; the thought was driven him home, and he seemed suddenly to find the skin of his own hands and feet stained over with a hue of ghostly sombreness. If he was to take to immediate flight, these blood-soaked clothes would be out of the question. He went out into the kitchen and, stripping himself off, cleansed his self of all blood stains. There was fortunately found on the closet shelf what seemed to be one of Seiji’s suits, which he pulled out to put on himself. It proved to be a two piece [63]suit of heavy pongee, with cotton wadding, and a hard lined sash marked with centre stripes on a dark brown ground; precisely the sort of clothing to fit him up in attire of respectable quietness. Next, he gave his attention to the chest of drawers, out of which he took, in both gold and silver pieces, what was an approximation of three “ryo.” It was done at once to fill the need he stood in at the time, and to work for the ruse to lead the whole happening to burglary. The clothes he had shed off were rolled into a bundle with a heavy stone used for pickling purpose, and were consigned to the depths of the canal water. All these thus disposed of, all this precaution taken, he was turning himself upon the scene which offered no evidence to convict him of the murder of Santa or the woman. Or, he tried to force his recalcitrant self into such thoughts.

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


Part III



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

Having given an outline of the happenings of the night to the man he had come to place his confidence in, Shinsuké asked to be hidden under his roof for the time being, on the promise that he should surrender himself to justice as soon as [68]Tsuya had been found. In telling his story, however, Shinsuké accounted himself for the end of Santa, but did not touch on what concerned the boatman’s wife.

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

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

“I had guessed as much.— Now that your story is straightened out, I don’t see why I shouldn’t take the thing on my hands, be as just and fair with you as you have been with me, and we can perhaps put our work together to find the girl you call Tsuya. But before we do anything, I [69]must have you understand this, that my idea is that you should give up yourself as soon as you have found your sweetheart. Now, take it from a man who knows what he talks about, for there was a time when I killed a man or two myself,—that once you get the feel of it, it’s mighty hard to wash your hands of it for all time. You’ve never been what I might call a bold boy, but now it’s all different. There is nothing more for you to stop at, and that means your temptations will be now many and often. You are now, Shinsuké san, placed where a step one way or the other counts a lot. Unless you take yourself in hand and do a lot of thinking, you are bound to roll down and down until you will be the devil himself. If I told you that I would insist on your stepping out to get your punishment, and would hear of nothing short of it, you would think I was a pretty heartless sort of a man, and I know it. But, you see, your life, even if saved now, would do, if anything, harm but no good, to yourself or to the world you live in. It would simply mean that there will be some more man killing, and nothing more.”

Shinsuké could not quite grasp what Kinzo was driving at by what he meant to be his advice. [70]Had he not owned up everything on his conscience? And had he not shown penitence for the same? Why this unless he were clear and firm in mind about what he should and was to do? He could see no reason why there should be any fears about his going wrong. In all the earnestness of a true heart, he pledged his word, again and again, that he would never fail to surrender himself to the fate that was justly to claim him.

It was as if a beast, once aroused, had been tamed down again; Shinsuké was once more the being of gentle and peaceful habits that he was before. The happenings of that night were recalled as in a dream that had been dreamt in the hours of his mind preyed upon by the devil. He might flee, it was suggested, and seek shelter, until the thing should have blown over, with a gambler, living at Omiya, Bushu, with whom Kinzo was under pledge of brothers. But this would be foreclosing any chance of finding Tsuya. Besides, to give a happy turn to the situation, the affair had apparently passed off without causing any speakable stir in town. Early in the morning after Shinsuké came, Kinzo went in a casual way over the ground along the plaster wall [71]enclosing the Lord Hosokawa’s mansion. He found neither blood which had evidently been washed away by the rain of the night, nor the umbrella which Shinsuké remembered of having left on the scene. The only thing visible was remains of the souvenir box from the restaurant Kawacho, trampled and mashed under feet. As for the boatman Seiji, he seemed to have been led to the theory that Santa, with the crime on his hand, stretched it a step and ran away with the money he took by killing his wife. Therefore, in the possible event of his falling in with Shinsuké, the boatman would certainly be dismayed, but never likely to think of turning him over to the law. That was also what Kinzo had gathered by secretly working through a certain boatman he was intimate with. As a next step, Kinzo had the young man shed off the clothes of unpleasant memory, and let him take a winter suit out of his own wardrobe. The old man’s care went so far in fitting him up as to have him paint mole marks on his face.

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

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

The neighbourhood of the canal road was given up for the present. Each of those places in town quartering licensed or geisha houses, was taken [73]up in order and looked into. He extended his range of search so far as Koume, Hashiba, Iriya, on the outward line of the city, and scoured even through such places as were known for the fashion and wealth of the town to keep their villas and mistresses. When the second month of the year drew to its close, he was little beyond where he had started. A little more spell of time, and the cherry trees began to come out in bloom along the riverside of Mukojima. A gauzy drape of mist was hung across the sky of springtime and peace. There came days of benign warmth which seemed to cast a spell of sleep even on him who was out and about the streets calling out his wares. The pendulum of time had swung to spring tide which had brought to his heart keen pangs of love and sorrow. And he longed so much to see Tsuya, to see her if only in the fleetest moments of dream.

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

Such was the glad tidings Kinzo brought home one evening in late April. Kinzo had treated, he explained, himself and a couple or so of his men at the tea house Obanaya, in Fukagawa, the same [74]evening. One of the geisha called into the party happened to fit closely the description that had been given him by the young man. To begin with, she had eyelids of rather heavy appearance, though a girl of rare prettiness, and her eye brows full even to the point of masculine sternness, more or less. When she smiled, her eye tooth on the right side was slightly disclosed under the upper lip and, because of its appearance out of line with the other teeth, made her smiling face all the more attractive. Her habit of giving a slight twist to her lips and pressing her teeth on the lower lip when engaged in conversation. Her voice with a ring of exquisite richness that seemed to make a straight appeal to a man’s heart. These characteristics so coincided with what Kinzo had been told about Tsuya that he went so far as to make a sly inquiry into her case. It was learnt that a gambler named Tokubey, living at Sunamura, stood as her guarantor. He was also able to ferret out the information that this man Tokubey was a thimble-rigger, a mean character disliked even amongst his own professional people, and that there was most likely a friendship between this man and the boatman Seiji, though not in any [75]open way. With so much raked in, there was scarce room for doubt. Shinsuké was also ready to concur in the same opinion.

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

With this introduction, Kinzo went on to tell him about the girl in question what he had heard as being passed around as talk of the gay quarters. It was only about a month and a half ago that this girl Somékichi began to appear at the Nakacho; but the fame of the girl, what of her musical talent, her likeable personality and brightness, her beauty to match anybody in the whole of that part of town, was soon on everybody’s lips. She became the rage of the place. A young son of a rich cloth trader of down town, a certain military officer of the “Hatamoto”[13] class, and five or six other men about town had lost their heads over her, had been cleaned out of almost incredible amounts of money, whilst they [76]were hotly making what had proved nothing but a wild goose chase. It was generally conjectured amongst people of the quarter that this man Tokubey, being infatuated with her himself, always put himself between the girl and whomever he had cause to be jealous of. The owner of the geisha house, under whose banner she listed herself was no other than Tokubey’s mistress who carried on the business with his capital. And not a day passed but there were squabbles or fights amongst these triangular figures. As the upshot of the thing, the mistress of the house had been packed off only about ten days since, and Somékichi was now the most important figure in the house, thus winning for herself a nitch amongst the leading, and most honoured of the geisha. And so, gossips had it that Tokubey was too heartless a man, of course, but Somékichi, yet so young, had a nerve as wonderfully distinct as her looks were.

However, it was quite open to question whether she had surrendered herself to Tokubey, as gossips seemed to make it out, added Kinzo his own opinion, as if he wished to inspire the young man with more cheerful hopes. It was quite probable, in his opinion, that Tokubey, too, [77]should be faring exactly as badly as the other men, just exciting himself on a chase that was to take him nowhere. A woman who was a cynosure of jealous eyes was naturally exposed to shafts of slander, one half of which may generally be regarded as fiction. What had struck Kinzo as remarkable, however, from what he saw of her at his party, was that she displayed herself so sophisticated that he would scarce imagine that she had been brought up in a rich pawnbroker’s family till a few months ago. From the way she had carried herself off, there was seen nothing about her of distress that might be expected of one grieving over the loss of the man to whom she had given her body and soul. She laughed and was gay throughout, drinking so heartily as few women would. If she was taking it, and probably she was, to drown her sorrows, of course, it was not so difficult to understand.

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

Apart from what had been remarked concerning Tokubey, that was certainly not palatable, all [78]else seemed to point to one and the same theory, as Shinsuké went over and put them together. Hearty drinking, sophistication, unwarrantable gaiety, and all this plausibly fitted to her case as he conceived it in her downward slide. Let her appear as dissolute as she would for aught he cared, thought Shinsuké, if only she had remained faithful to himself.

On the morrow Shinsuké shaved himself, and his mole marks were washed off in the bath. He had again given himself the neat and spruce air of former days. Even though the blot once left on his mind by his dire crimes was never to be washed out, his eyes had the same look of frank appeal and trustfulness, and his fresh-coloured, rounded cheeks betrayed no trace of pallid anguish. And now there was the remotest chance, so remote as to be almost negligible, that Shinsuké might be seen on the way by the boatman Seiji, who, in such event, might be goaded into any sort of covert, cowardly assault upon him by the fear of his past being divulged through him;—this the thoughtfulness of Kinzo. Arrangements had been made, therefore, for the young man to leave in the palanquin about the closing in of evening, when little exposure on his part would [79]be necessary. And was not the meeting about to be with Somékichi this night,—was it not going to be his leave taking of her, and of this world?

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

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

What Kinzo had seen of the young man, of the creditable way he had carried himself since coming under his shelter, led him to the trusting belief he would not efface himself were he given a free hand now. There was a fear none the less that Shinsuké, under the sway of Tsuya’s mind, might take his life into his own hand even as [80]she might hers. Wherefore, he put Shinsuké under probation as he asked—

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

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

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

There was on that evening a faint breath of wind that came bearing a balmy warmth out of the south, and in the moonbeams coming through the wreaths of gauzy mist, the face of each soul passing in the street appeared so softly white as the magnolia flower as even to suggest its fragrance,—one of those eves that spring, only in the [81]fullness of her heart, can bear forth. Shinsuké’s palanquin went straight on through the Takabashi line, and to the Kuroecho; a turn to the left before the first “torii” or gateway to the Hachiman temple, the carriage came to a halt in front of the entrance porch of the Obana-ya. Tea-houses were not unknown to him; yet never had he been to one placed, as this was, in the heart of a gay quarter.

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

“Let me see a girl called Somékichi, and I want no other geisha”: his request, voiced as it was in a tone of such uncompromising insistence, gave a suggestion of mockery. He might well [82]have been taken for a man about town who, so assured of his own matchless comeliness, had come with his mind bent upon this rage for masculine passion, purposely attired in a simplicity that was almost ungainly, to make his conquest all the more romantic and savoury.

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

A quick glance at the back of the man, and Tsuya broke into a flurry, pattering her soft bare feet as if they clung at each step to the fresh covered mat on the floor, and coming round in [83]front, face to face with him, she gave a little cry of keen happiness. In an instant, her face lost its colour for the suddenness of happy shock, but, in the next, she sank herself close before him, almost upon his laps.

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

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

It was a long story since they parted from each other, at the closing of that unforgettable day, the twentieth of December;—and she was the first to give her account. On the same evening, soon after Shinsuké was called away, the boatman’s wife announced that there was little doing that evening and all were due for an evening off, and all of the servant maids and hired men were sent out somewhere under such pretext. The wife and Tsuya, left alone in the house, were having a chat when that downpour of rain came on. Amidst those torrents, Seiji came home heavily drunk, followed by two or three strangers. [84]Without a word or warning, he had her bound, hand and foot, and thrust into a palanquin in which she was carried off to the home of Tokubey, at Sunamura. Everything having been undoubtedly prearranged, there were waiting for her there a merry batch of men, half a dozen or so of ruffians, including Tokubey himself, apparently intent on having a jolly time of it. She was dragged out in the midst of those men who sat in a circle for their feasting, to be mocked and jeered at. About her own life, however, she was never in much fear; for, those men were all gloating over her with unexpressed desire, she felt. The worst they would do, therefore, would be selling her off to a brothel after they had made unsuccessful attempts to win her mind; they would not harm what they prized dear. Upon such reasoning thought, she felt herself physically protected and accepted the situation boldly. They would oft threaten her with death, but never would she wince or yield. She was only in deep concern for Shinsuké, for whom her heart would yearn that she could sleep neither by day nor by night.

What she had expected was to come out before long. The boatman Seiji had her placed—as bad [85]as locked her up—in a room for the obvious reason which was to bring him there every day.

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

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

This confinement went on for rather a long period of time, from the twentieth of December to around February. Patient and determined as the boatman was, he was met by as dogged a [86]mind on her part who would yield herself neither to threat nor cajolery. She was not freed from this state of confinement until Tokubey who had followed the affair was at last moved to make intercession for her, and perhaps convinced Seiji that he would be better rewarded otherwise than by torment. Now placed under strict watch, she was sometimes running on little errands, and at some other times was served with servile flattery that was but disgusting. It was to a new line of tactics, of thawing her heart with kindness, that Seiji’s mind had swung to, now.

Tokubey was a man of about the same age as Seiji, but of a mind, presumably, capable of deeper craft and design; under a consistently suave appearance he never permitted himself to show a ruffled or real man. It was a fact that under casual observation he could be taken for a man of good sense and heart. He interposed his mind between Seiji and Tsuya, with a different tune for each one, as he meant to make him or her dance thereto. Tokubey was particularly attentive to make use of sly moments to impress her mind with his kindness, which was as cheap as its motive was thin. “So, this man, too, has his eyes on me!” Tsuya was quick to perceive it, [87]and began to give herself an air of one leaning on his growing kindness, to put him off his guard as much as possible, to make him the more open to attack, later on. The first chance she should get, she would flee from Sunamura and set out on her quest for Shinsuké.

One evening when she was waiting upon him—and upon his whims—with drinks, she said between soliloquy and question: “I have given up Shinsuké for good and true; but I’m wondering what’s become of the man.” Whereupon, quite to her surprise, Tokubey’s lips dropped a story that gave her a dreadful inkling of what had hitherto been completely screened from her. That Seiji caused, on that night, his faithful Santa to kill Shinsuké on the riverside road; that the same Santa, for some reason or other, got a new notion into his head, after his deed, and killed the boatman’s wife by strangling, to run away with their money; that Seiji had since taken to himself a third wife;—all these things told by Tokubey, though not as information at first hand, appeared to fit in line with circumstances of the case. Tsuya felt that she had been now brought where she should abandon all hopes for Shinsuké. From that hour she had set her heart, she said, [88]upon taking vengeance, somehow—some when,—upon Seiji for the sake of the man lost to her forever.

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

“Were you yet a maiden it would make all the difference. And what I ask you to be is a geisha. Will you not do this, just to meet me half-way, if for nothing else?” Tokubey’s demand, because it was garbed as a humble entreaty, could not very well be turned down. If she were to be sold off to a house, she would fare far worse; there was no getting away from that. Tokubey had saved her from this infamy, and, besides, what he proposed to her and begged her to do was on the ground where her chastity of body, [89]at least, was to be protected. It had taken on such a complexion that Shinsuké, she thought, would not feel himself wronged, even if he were to know of it in the world beyond. Since she would rather stay away from her parents’ home for good, there had to be something to keep her independent, and what was now being pondered upon appeared to her to be of all things the one for which she was by nature best equipped. Once she had made up her mind upon the subject, it was a proposition such as she could scarce have better,—if she were to make it upon her own terms. Her agreement, therefore, was given without much farther ado.

Since her appearance as a geisha, she had quickly won her way to the line of first-raters. She had worked the debt off herself, and was now in a free position to work on her own account. To be true, she was under more or less obligation to Tokubey, yet she was mistress of herself and of a house. When she had found herself again free to act on her mind, she secretly engaged men to work on the case of Shinsuké, whom she could never forget. Her effort, however, was rewarded with no success beyond what came to bear out Tokubey’s story, in regard to Santa’s deed and [90]the boatman’s new wife. All this collaborating to point to Shinsuké’s death, she had now little else save to accept it finally. And so, everything was flung to the winds, in the face of fate. She had nowadays come to live a care-free life, if he forgave her for saying this, and lived much the way after her own mind, enjoying what gaiety her independent ways and buoyant nature could glean out of her new life. And there was no business so delightful as that of the geisha, in her opinion; nothing so sweet as to wheedle money out of dolts of men who knew no better. Now, to crown her happiness, she had refound this night her long-lost sweetheart, and what happiness to think that it was now in her power to make it possible for him to live and be as happy as she was.

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

“Tsu chan, it is myself that must ask your forgiveness! I’m no longer a man fit to live with [91]you!” Whereon, Shinsuké suddenly adjusted himself into a solemn attitude, taking her hands off himself, as she pressed still nearer to him. The account of his dreadful crimes he gave, and he gave it in full and so straight as if he might have meant to fling it into the face of the young woman raptured over her own cup of joy.

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

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

“Of course, I am to blame for the whole thing—if it comes to that,” she went on. “But the more I hear of your story about killing them, the better and more solid reason I think you had for doing it. About Seiji’s woman, too, it was a case [92]of squaring yourself with him,—I don’t see anything particularly wrong about it. In fact, I’m even glad you did it. I am, indeed!—Now, look here, Shin don, if you didn’t give yourself away, the old man, of Narihira-cho, wouldn’t hand in the case to the officer, would he? There’s nobody else wise to the game. They don’t call too much honesty a virtue, nowadays!”

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

“There is something in what you say, but I would never forgive myself if I were to stay away from the hand of the law. Step out, own up everything, and take the punishment I deserve,—that’s what I owe to my master, my old father, and Kinzo, and no less. The fact is, I have something to ask you,—it’s the last wish of my life. I want you to quit this sort of life—the earlier even by a day, the better,—and go back to your folks. The master took it so badly about you that he’s kept to his sick bed ever since last year; and if this you do not know, I do. Let him see you again, and I know he will be happy; he will never be the one to nurse grievances against you [93]for so long a time, or to keep harping on what’s done and past. About the account you owe to Tokubey, you can tell your father and he will be just ready to settle it off for you, I am sure!”

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

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

“Rotten,—yes, rotten I am! Have no more goodness to think of my papa or mama,—not even in my dreams!” She pulled herself up with wilful petulance. As suddenly almost, she turned and collapsed, burying her face on his shoulder; she began to appeal and beseech, in a voice broken by violent sobs. “Why have we found each other [94]again after such a long time, if only to quarrel and make us feel miserable? Because you are not right, Shin don! You shall have your wish,—your last wish, as you say,—ask me anything and I will do it. But never shall you give yourself away! If you want to die, I will not let you! If you talked of it as a thing for some time after, it might be different. That you would go to-morrow when we’ve met only to-night,—oh, you are too heartless!”

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

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

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

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

They took the precaution not to leave the Obana-ya in company. They fell in together at a corner a little way off. Along the path bathed in the pale shimmer of a mist veiled moon, the shadows of two love-doves were printed, as the pair plodded on with their hearts filled with almost nameless emotions, as on that night of their flight. Facing the garden of the Buddhist temple, Eitai-ji, which occupied a space within the premises of the Hachiman Temple, on the one side story along the bank of a canal, there was seen a house with a lantern hung outside the front entrance illumining forth the name of “Tsuta-ya” which was Tsuya’s present home. The house itself was not large, but two or three geisha serving under her, a servant maid in attendance, choice wood-work and upholstery in display in the upstairs room, bespoke of a home [96]and living of fair comfort. A little girl of fifteen or sixteen years, came out as far as the lattice door at the entrance to greet her mistress who, having whispered something in her ear, went in, unshod herself hurriedly, and led the way for him up the stairs.

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

“I remember you scolded me one time when I called myself after the manner of a geisha; but you won’t mind it, if I do now, will you?” And she was at once speaking in the bold vernacular of her trade. When she caught him calling her by the less familiar name of “Tsu chan,” as he had been wont to do, she rebuked him for the manner she considered as cold. Even if for this [97]night only, she asked him to feel himself her true wedded man and call her “O-Tsuya.” “And for that I shall no longer call you ‘Shin don’,” she said, “but you will be ‘Shin san’,[14] as my husband should be.”

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

Three short days to stay, and that was to end their love for all time; on this their hearts were set, and their minds attuned thereto. Sitting before a display of dishes ordered from a near-by restaurant, they drank one bottle of saké after [98]another, from morn till night. Neither to sleep nor to awake, the passion-crazed pair lived to measure out their numbered days, until by the close of the third day, they were so fagged out that their own minds seemed distant and dazed, even in their waking hours. And after all that, once their minds brought to that angle, they could not put their fingers on a single thing that was particularly sweet to be recalled. The happiest memory, after all, appeared to be that of the first evening; of those moments of their hurried retreat from the tea house Obana-ya. And one thing that came back to Shinsuké’s mind as a vague memory was what he gave to Tsuya of his troubled mind, about daybreak of this day, under the maddening spurs of drink.

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

“Oh, stuff! If you mean to play the jealous husband for my entertainment, nix for mine! [99]I don’t relish that sort of thing. I don’t know what you’re thinking of me, but I do know this: except to you, I have never given myself away—”

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

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

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

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

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

Never had he thought her so lovable as at this moment. He wanted, wished to love her strongly; in the tumult of his heart he became so bold of [100]mind that he would as lief cry, “Let everything else be damned!”

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

Then, there followed a doze out of which they were not to awake before the second hour past noon. Again, they betook themselves to drinking; but, for some reason or other, they felt their hearts devoid of any such emotion of joy as they might expect to feel as memories of those hours of the morn. The last of their evenings was here, and the evening was still so young, and they sat there, a pair of helpless minds moping in gloom. There seemed to be naught for them save to seek in drinks the aid to buoy their spirits. But what more of drinks they took only brought on an aching stupor to their heads, depressing [101]their minds still farther. It was impotent remorse that had stalked forth in the wake of orgies to assail their minds.

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

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

“Oh, what’s the use! What’s the use of it all!” she muttered disconsolately, as she rose to her feet. She returned with her samisen.[16] With a [102]display of greater vim than was called for, she shoved open the sliding screens at the low, wide window. Placing herself over the sill, she began to play upon the samisen some measures of the Katobushi.[17] Her voice of plaintive richness, of which well she may have been proud, floated out to fill the room with its melodious tremors, even arresting the steps of some wayfarers below on the street. “Can you not hear these words of song? Oh! can you not feel the soul of this music that you would still go away from me?”—of such words of appeal her eyes were eloquent, as they gave a quick glance, now and again, out of their corners. Far beyond the railing along the window, above the tree-tops rising over the temple, there had swung into view the sky of night bejewelled with stars that glittered as they peered down upon the figure of Tsuya.

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

“To Shinsuké san, I believe I tender this greeting [103]of first meeting. Know me please as Tokubey, of Sunamura.”

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

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

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

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

“I know what I am wanted for, but you couldn’t budge me with a sledge-hammer, to-night! Just think! Going with my dearest body left here alone?—No, and you feel for me, and say no [104]more!”

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

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

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

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

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

A prey to vague, nameless fears, Shinsuké anxiously followed their bandied words. At first, he could not but feel misgivings whither [105]their talk might lead; but Tokubey’s unchanging meekness and composure were soon to set him at ease in mind. He was even to feel sorry for him for showing admirable patience with her wayward manner of conducting the parley. Like a man of generally meek disposition that he was, Shinsuké was astounded to see how she twisted the man about her fingers, as if the name of “The Gambler Boss of Sunamura” meant to her nothing of awe or respect. From the Tsuya of before to the Somékichi of present—the change was no more brilliantly sweeping than the process had been one of conspicuous hardening of her character; and he secretly marveled thereat.

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

“If you say so, I’ll go.” Her face broke into a sardonic grin, as she gave her acquiescence with such readiness as it was generally not her wont to show. Having adjusted her stray hair and her outer robe to correctness before a glass stand, [106]she turned to say—

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

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

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

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

Shinsuké spurred his own mind to strength and determination.

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

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

“Shin san, I suppose you wouldn’t—.” She suddenly checked herself, seemingly on some sudden thought. She rose again and went to [108]survey outside the door, down the stairway to its foot, assuring herself there was no eavesdropping. She returned to her previous posture to resume in a voice subdued into a faint huskiness. “I suppose you wouldn’t care so much—would you?—if I tipped it off to that man Tokubey about you and what you intend to do about yourself—even to-morrow, for that matter—to take punishment for what you’ve done—. Really, it’s too late if you did, anyhow. I’ve just done it on my own initiative,—”

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

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

“But telling it was necessary, Shin san, unless I was to put your life itself in danger, to-night—” Whereat she again turned, casting an inquiring glance toward the door, before she [109]went on—

“And now coming to what Tokubey wanted to see me about. ‘Shin san is the man you love,’ he says to me, ‘so you can do what you want with him; no worrying on my account. Keep him upstairs as long as you care, and no objection. But for that,’ he goes on to say, ‘I want you to make yourself useful for my benefit, for this one night.’ It seems he has a little game up his sleeve that means easy money,—some stunt to pull off with myself working at the other end of it. And he wants me now to come with him over to Mukojima, to the country villa of a ‘hatamoto’ officer called Ashizawa. But, because I should not like to leave you here alone, I’ve been having it out with him—I wouldn’t agree so easily. Of course, it’s a fact that there is some arrangement for my going out to Mukojima,—but not when you are with me; besides, I do feel there’s something not quite right about this thing. It is true that he has always talked and behaved decently, on the face of it all; but the truth is that he means to get me eventually after he has worked me into a place where I couldn’t free myself from him for my obligations to him. Sensing that much about him, I am afraid he might get you out and [110]kill you, if I were not home. And, again, it might be this; Seiji, having seen you somehow, has asked him to make an end to you. But if they knew you were a man just about ready to end his own life, I thought they wouldn’t think it necessary to do it themselves. All things considered, I reasoned myself into telling him the whole business. And there you are. But what else could I have done?”

“And what did he have to say?”

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

Tsuya followed up with her insistent entreaty that he should stay another night, because she could not get back before next morning. She would never think of accepting the call from any other place or party, she explained, but to fail this summons from Ashizawa’s villa in Mukojima [111]this night, would mean a heap of trouble,—in fact, a difference of a hundred “ryo,” to put it in terms of money. Not only that, but there was so much frame-up and blackmail about this scheme, which she had been hatching with Tokubey to put over by means little short of downright swindling,—that everything had to be done just so and so and at such and such a time, or the whole thing would go crashing down to pieces.—She arrayed impressive facts, true and perhaps otherwise, in making out her case; and it was, presumably, her idea, in her eagerness to keep him another day, to provide a good solid peg to hang the persuasive effort.

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

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

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

“If you are determined so strongly, there’s nothing else to be done. To tell you the truth, I hoped to go on keeping you here from day to day, until I should get you round, somehow, to my own ideas, for all time; but I’ve given it up. And, now, about this business to Mukojima, it’s all wrong what I said about coming back to-morrow [113]morning—just an excuse to keep you longer. Now, I ask you to wait for me only till the second hour after midnight, because I’ll be sure to come back by that time.”

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


Part IV



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

A step out of the Naka-cho, the place of garish lights and gaiety, the streets were shrouded in soulless gloom and silence; not a single house [118]that kept such a late hour. After his stay at the Tsuta-ya of these three days and two nights, pent up in the upstairs room, festered in the cloying pleasures of unbridled orgies, Shinsuké felt himself refreshed and even revived in the sobering coolness of the breezes with which the late, deserted night breathed. As he was passing by the end of the Azuma-bashi bridge, he was brought into a feeling that he was so near the homes of his old father and the man who had kept him under his protecting roof. He paused, brought his hands together in the very humbleness of spirit, as he faced far in the direction of each of their houses in turn, and asked their forgiveness, following the words of his silent prayer,—“My father, and Master Kinzo, forgive me, for to-morrow I go forth to meet justice!” When, after crossing the Makura-bashi bridge, he had come out along the riverside avenue stretched under the canopy foliage of the cherry grove, a waning moon of copper hue, hollowed out into an arching crescent, hung high overhead, mirrored on the face of the wide stream as if foreboding an evil it alone knew. He came to a halt to pause awhile before the sight of the black water moving on its hushed and sluggish course, [119]and now to gaze at the stars arrayed over the open sky. At rare intervals, roofed dingeys carrying belated fares to the Yoshiwara came straggling, now by one and again by twos, and glided their furtive way up the deserted watercourse in the direction of the Sanya canal.

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

The officer’s country villa at Terashima-mura was easily found. He was not exactly unprepared, [120]when he heard the place styled as the country villa of an officer of the Shogun’s guards. Nevertheless, he viewed with surprise what was possible to be seen of the estate which appeared imposing in the darkness of night, the premises enclosed round by a wall of closely wattled bamboo laths, with a hedge grown closely behind it, altogether bespeaking the prosperous circumstances of the owner. Through a space at the door of the postern gate, he peered and saw that the door admitting to the ground plot in a corner of the kitchen was left open, two or three feet, even at such a late hour, to throw but a faint glow of light—but not a sound of voices.

“I come with the greeting of evening, from the geisha station of the Naka-cho.”

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

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

“Well,”—and Shinsuké gave an awkward laugh [121]for an apology—, “I was sent to fetch Somékichi san—”

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

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

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

“Now our game is spilt out, I am not going to squeal or mince my words. We did have—yes, you were right—a little thing between me and Tokubey here, and we were going to fleece you. And now, listen, Ashizawa san, if you were fool enough to be taken in, you just own yourself [122]beaten and take it gamely, if you are a man,—and say no more about it. But if you are so sore that you can’t act in that style or haven’t sense enough to do it, why don’t you suit yourself—with your trinket knife, or pike, or anything else? But let me tell you, that you’re not going to get back your money,—I don’t care how much it is. What I have is mine, and will stay so. That’s said!”

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

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

Smashing against the screen; heavy thudding upon the floor; the sharp clash of blade against blade; a moment yet of suspense, suddenly followed [123]by a shrill cry of pain. As suddenly almost, Tokubey came running out to the kitchen, his rotund face covered with blood. Close upon his heels, darted Tsuya, with her hair loose, only to be stopped short by an officer who had grabbed her by the collar from behind. She was jerked into a crushing heap under the sword swung up overhead, ready for an instant blow.

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

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

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

“I am a page sent out from the Naka-cho to fetch back Somékichi san. Be what it will, that has brought things to this pass, you are a man of too honoured a name and position. Please be lenient and save her—and your good self from [124]unnecessary scandal! I pray you to put that sword back in its sheath!”

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

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

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

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

“Don’t be silly! What a song you sing with [125]only those scratches,—you will disgrace yourself! That rascal of a servant seems to have gone off somewhere. No time to lose, get hold of me and we shall get away before the officers show up!”

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

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

Taking a deserted path along between the postern walls of the mansions and the rice fields, the three had run on for five or six minutes, when they crawled into the shadow of some shrubbery growth, to snatch a while to recover their wind. Fortunately, there were no signs of their being tracked. Shinsuké took a hand towel out of his bosom and, ripping it into strips, bound the [126]wounds which were still profusely bleeding.

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

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

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

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

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

A sudden sweep of her arm, Tsuya took the reeling man by a cluster of his hair and hurled her whole weight upon him, who went down crushed, heavily thudding on the ground. She flashed out of her sash folds a razor, carried [127]there concealed, and swung it over the upturned face. Barely in time he met her hand; straining what mortal strength still left in him, he turned his body and threw her off. As soon, he was up on his feet,—

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

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

In the meanwhile, Tsuya pulled herself to her feet, and brought him down by sweeping his feet off the ground. Again, there ensued a fierce, closed struggle. Wounded as he was, he was more than her match. She was at last pinned down, flat on her back, hands closing around her [128]neck to choke out her life. A particle more of strength left in the wounded man, and she would have been dead, straightway. Tokubey’s strength had carried him thus far, but no farther; suddenly he felt himself sapped of force.

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

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

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

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

Scarce had she spent out her breath, before Shinsuké drove the knife, the spoil of a moment ago, into the back of the man placed astride her fallen body. Little worse for the blow, the other shot himself into his arms, kicking, battering, [129]biting, ripping with nails, in frenzied rage. Shinsuké did not experience such resistant force when he killed Santa or the boatman’s woman. Nor were they always on their feet. Rolling and tumbling, dragged in dirt and pulled by hair, the two men fought on what appeared a fight of neither men nor beasts. It was after some moments that Shinsuké, almost by chance, buried his knife into the flabby side of his foe.

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

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

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

“What talk, man! If that’s what you do, what’s the sense of killing this man? You have gone down deep enough, why not stay there and take [130]all good things coming your way? Who will know this thing, if we keep our mouths shut? Why this chicken-hearted idea? Come, you buck up. I don’t want to die,—no, never!”

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

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

Shinsuké who had gathered himself into a stony lump, like a dead body, in an attitude of deep thought, was now left alone and aside, as Tsuya set about to dispose of the corpse, without his aid. As a first thing, she slipped her hand into the bosom and pulled out a purse holding a hundred “ryo” which, in her words, the dead man would not need for his trip to Hades. All pieces of clothing, carefully peeled off, were done into a tight roll, bound up with a piece of string. It was her idea to take away from the spot any and all things that might serve as evidence of the crime. [131]As a last thing, she took the razor and cut the face of the man all over, who was finally buried in the mire of the paddy field. The remains were now beyond any possible recognition, should it chance to be discovered.

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


Part V



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

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

One morning, about half a month or so after [136]the night of the last murderous deed, the front lattice door of the Tsuta-ya was opened and admitted, on a voice of morning greeting, a caller who was of all callers the least expected, Kinzo of the Narihira-cho. Shinsuké who was just then seated over a brazier and a bottle of drink for his morning repast in the adjoining room, sped upstairs the instant he caught the sound of his voice.

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

“If you will say he is not here, I am not going to waste my time or yours, about that. When the man himself is disposed that way, it would do him little good, even if I got him by forcing a search through your house. So, I’m going to say to you a good morning; but here is something, Somékichi san, that I’d wish you to tell to this man Shinsuké, should you fall upon him by any chance. Tell him this straight and right, please, that my word is always good, I would never break what was sealed with a true man’s words,—even if he broke his part of the promise. He can put himself at ease, because nothing will ever [137]leak through my lips. But tell him that, if he wants so much to live, I want him to live straight and right, not to disappoint the man who trusted him, not to do anything that means cropping his own life,—in a word, to change himself into a new man. I think he’s been doing little good, since going away from my place. I wish he would take himself in hand from this on, at least, and turn his back upon the way he has been following. It’s my honest wish and you will tell him, as straight from my heart, just to oblige this old man.—My regret for taking up so much of your time, and my wish for a good day to you.” And Kinzo took his leave.

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

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

It was a fact that his mind had become, these days, a prey to haunting ideas wherein the killing of a man and the taking of his money invariably loomed prominent. The man and woman whose [138]lives were welded in much blood and crime seemed to feel themselves alive only to a filmed sense of life, without new stimulation of bloody intensity. He could not cast his eyes on a man’s face but he conjectured a vision of the same being laid low in a hideous corpse. He could not overcome the ominous presentiment that there were yet to be one or two more lives to be dispatched at his hands, somehow.

Just about this time, the business of the boatman Seiji began to bring him into the professional life of Tsuya. What with his thriving business, and with unaccountable earnings of illicit description, he prosperously carried him on all the year round. A new house had replaced the old. He had won his way into recognition as one of the opulent folk of the Takabashi way. Having attained such circumstances of fortune where he commanded homage and servility amongst his own numbers, with little fear of Tokubey who was dead to all appearances, only too ready to feel anew the old fire that he had neither lived out nor forsaken, and not without other obvious reasons, he took it upon himself to wait upon the pleasure of the woman who had knowledge of his dark secret. Perhaps, no more dragged by his guilty conscience [139]than spurred on by his freshened gusto, he sought patiently to please and win her over, though he found her whims and fancies quite costly.

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

“If all that sweetness you tell is true, I can’t deny that it warms up my heart toward you. But, while you are with your Ichi san, I wouldn’t quite relish the idea.” It was the refrain with which she would always parry his advance beyond a certain point. Ichi was the boatman’s third wife; she herself had been a geisha in the Yoshi-cho quarter until two or three years ago, when Seiji bought her out to be kept as his mistress. On the death of his last wife, he took her into his own family. Not a woman of so much attractiveness, she had nevertheless an accountably strong hold upon the man. Moral slips on his part or any little things suggestive of such an eventuality, if smelt out, were sure to expose him to a connubial tirade, often accompanied by [140]a muscular display of much vehemence. However strongly he might covet Tsuya, the idea of driving out this woman seemed to be the one thing he was never likely to buckle himself to.

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

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

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

“It’s Santa’s work, and I had no hand in it.—By the way, you’ve become a woman of wonderful [141]mettle, nowadays, and no mistake, either!”

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

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

Their chance came, at length, in July of the same year, when the summer was at its height. Through the arrest of one of his gang, a series of convicting cases had begun to be brought to light against Seiji, driving him to the decision that he should shut up his house, and sneak off into the country where to lie low in hiding for some while. This should be his chance to do [142]away with Ichi, and this would be done to clear the way for them; for he wished Tsuya to accompany him on this flight into his life to open anew. He would, of course, bear away all the money on hand. It was suggested that they should steal away by boat under cover of night.—When this was whispered into her ear, Tsuya gave a ready assent, forcing down her heaving bosom.

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

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

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

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

He was still fighting hard for his breath.

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

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

“There is the boat all ready, out there. We’ll take this carcass along and sink it down, somewhere in the offing.—Now, about money, here is what I’ve raked up—.” Seiji almost dropped [144]before her a weighty looking bag of straw matting, in which there was five hundred “ryo” in gold pieces, he explained. In this moment, the door at the kitchen entrance was noiselessly opened for a second time; Shinsuké stole in.

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

“What? You Shinsuké san?”

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

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

A brief altercation led straightway to a scuffle. Without a weapon at hand, Sejii was soon at bay. Tsuya’s arm swiftly shot out from behind [145]his back, and clapped fast over his mouth about to cry for help. Shinsuké was given sufficient time to complete his work.

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

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

The love of Shinsuké for her grew more intense, as he sped farther downward. Her explanation that she had been “at the old game again” was good enough as far as it went; but, some nights when her return home was late, he [146]would strike out into expression of his mind tinged with veiled mistrust, and chafing with jealous fears.

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

However, the case of the woman who was oft late to come home had to go still farther. For, now she would fail sometimes to return before the morning, keeping him awake all night long. In face of anything he might say from his mistrustful mind in such events, she would remain in supreme composure, unembarrassed. “There are so many turns and twists to the geisha’s business, and she must be wise to them if she expects to do well. Especially, when she has irons in the fire, it is more than likely that she should have to act,—and act in many foolish ways; sometimes, pretending she’s too drunk to hear the man or to wait on his pleasure, and sometimes, she has to keep this make-believe up until the next morning. It’s all part of her game, [147]and a girl who isn’t capable of that gets the worst of it, to say nothing of fleecing a billy lamb.” This she would hold forth in her effort to confirm her faith with him and the chastity of her conduct. A man of an unsuspecting, frank turn of mind, though with gruesome records against him now, Shinsuké had scarcely initiated himself into the inner knowledge of that peculiar world of the geisha which, for all appearances to the contrary, was really bound fast to an accepted code of honour. What he knew of the geisha or the world she lived in was through Tsuya only. For all his occasional fits of jealousy, therefore, he would always end by his complacent acceptance of her reassurance.

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

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

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

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

“Shinsuké, my greetings and my wish to you that we should consign our memory of that night to the stream of oblivion, and we should be [149]agreeable with one another. You shall be a welcome guest at my country villa of Terashima-mura, and you should accept my invitation when you are so disposed.” And Ashizawa’s thin lips, associable with sharp wits, curled in a slight smile of benevolence. He was seen in a condition scarce better than his escort.

Whilst the flames of jealous anger were consuming him, Shinsuké thought he should hold himself in check and silence, until he should fall upon conclusive proof. Imprudent charge would but give her a chance to make him ridiculous. He was now bent upon catching her red-handed. After continuing his work for one month,—secretly tracing her moves every night, gathering gossip from tea-houses through bribing young ones serving in Tsuya’s employment, Shinsuké was able to confirm himself that he had not erred greatly in his first surmise. However, all that he had procured so far was naught but indirect information that had taken him little way beyond where he was at the start; he had worked in vain to grasp such a chance as he needed. Tsuya, so sure of her own self and of his docile mind, would never fail, on her return from calls, to carry it off, on each occasion, with superb confidence, [150]glib of tongue and full of the memories of people and places that were conspicuous for their absence. She would freely talk of this master and that guest, comment now on one tea-house and again on another; but her time was really spent only in the company of Ashizawa. As Shinsuké began to see it through the veil she meant to draw over his eyes, exasperating because done with self-confidence that was well-nigh a taunt, Shinsuké found himself yielding to the passions of his outraged heart, until he could bear the situation no longer. In the evening of the third day of the New Year, though acting on such weak evidence as he had as a result of his investigation, he brought her to confront the shafts of his examination.

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

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

“—It is a fact I have sold myself to Ashizawa, if you would have it that way. But, Shin [151]san, if you expect to have a geisha for a sweetheart, you ought to be wise to the game, and don’t fool yourself about it. I may be as good—at those things—as many others; but you can’t expect me—or anybody else, for that matter,—to manage to put it over for hard cash by only palming off sugar pills to them. If I didn’t tell you everything straight and open, you ought to have seen what’s what, all the same. And if you knew that I was doing all this not for the love of the thing,—but for you,—your comfort and pleasure in life,—you ought to be saying to me something nicer than that. It’s for you to keep your eyes and mouth shut.—Now that we are at it, I may as well open your eyes now as later. There were times when I gave myself not only to Tokubey, but to Seiji, too. If you didn’t know it, that means no credit to you!”

Her taunting abuse thrown to his face, Shinsuké flew into a rage. Had it been but a matter of broken faith, the chastity of her body, he might have forborne and reconciled himself to the truth of it. In none of the words she uttered was seen a trace of truthfulness. Her real intention was, to all appearances, that she should drive him into a passion and, once a wedge was driven [152]in between them through this idea, should turn her back upon him and go her own way.

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

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

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

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

It was not a taunt that he was not exactly [153]prepared for; none the less, flaunted to his face with such open boldness, it stunned him; he was so stunned as to relax, in spite of himself, his hold on the rod. Gone too far beyond his help;—the thought darted through his mind, and he was assailed by an unbearable and abject misery.

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

The case of what was known as “The Killing of O-Tsuya” took place two or three days after this. Generally, a woman of stout heart and dauntless courage, Tsuya seemed to have lost her grip on herself, and stood in strong dread of the worst the man might dare at the last. She had therefore carried on her preparations in the dark; on the third day, at a late hour in the [154]night, she betook herself from a party at a tea-house, and thence effaced herself. Shinsuké who had been on the alert did not neglect to keep himself informed. When he was informed at the call station of her departure from the house, he set off at once for Mukojima.

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

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

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


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

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

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

Junichiro Tanizaki Is the author of The Tattoo Artist and Kirin, 1909; The Youth, 1910; Atumono, 1912; O-Tsuya Koroshi 1915; O-Sai To Minokichi, 1915; Sorrows of a Pagan, 1916; Sickbed Images, 1916; Fears of a Certain Boy, 1919: A Shark Man, 1920; A Story of A and B, 1921; Honmoku Nights, 1922; Between God and Man, 1923; The Heart of a Dolt, 1924; All For The Love, 1921; Light, Shade and Love, 1924; Shanghai Sketches, 1926; and others.

Japanese publication data page



定價 金貳圓五拾錢
英譯 お艶殺し

譯者 岩堂全智


發行者 不破瑳磨太

印刷者 北村東一

印刷所 ジャパン・タイムス社印刷部

發行所 ジャパン・タイムス社出版部

振替口座 東京 六四八四八番
販賣所 全國各書店


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[11] Ten o’clock.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transcriber’s Notes

In the HTML version of this text, original page numbers are enclosed in square brackets and presented in the right margin.

Footnotes have been numbered and moved to the back of the book.

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

Punctuation has been silently corrected.

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

Japanese Data
(from end of book)

Title: お艶殺し
Otsuya Koroshi (lit: “O-Tsuya Murder”)
Author: 谷崎潤一郎
Tanizaki, Junichiro
Translator: 岩堂全智
Iwado, Zenchi
Publisher (person): 不破瑳磨太
Fuwa, Samata
Printer (person): 北村東一
Kitamura, Tōichi
Print date: 昭和二年七月五日
Shōwa (era) year 2 July 5 (i.e. 5 July 1927)
Printing site: ジャパン・タイムス社印刷部

Japan Times Company Printing Department
Tokyo City
Kōji-machi Uchisaiwai-chō 1-chōme 5-banchi
Publication date: 昭和二年七月十五日
Shōwa (era) year 2 July 15 (i.e. 15 July 1927)
Publication site: ジャパン・タイムス社出版部

Japan Times Company Publication Department
Tokyo City
Kōji-machi Uchisaiwai-chō 1-chōme 5-banchi
Sales site: 全國各書店
Nationwide various book stores
Fixed Price: 金貳圓五拾錢
2 yen 50 sen


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