from its portrayal of the ways in which the new ideas have destroyed the Japanese aristocracy.
The novel created an immediate sensation when it Osamu Dazai first appeared . . . . It is generally conceded that Dazai is one of the great chroniclers of (trans. Donald Keene) contemporary Japanese life, and this major achievement was reached despite the shortness of his life and career . . . . But The Setting Sun is [INSIDE FRONT COVER] not to be considered [merely] a sociological document of help to those who wish to learn more Set in the early postwar years, this about an obscure or distant country. It is a powerful novel of a nation in social and powerful and beautiful novel by one of the most moral crisis probes the destructive brilliant of recent Japanese writers and stands as effects of war, and the transition from a such in the world of literature." feudal Japan to an industrial society. Though Osamu Dazai died a suicide in ~-~-~-~ 1948, the influence of this. book, often considered his masterpiece, has made Published by the Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc. of Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo, Japan, with editorial offices at Suido 1the term "people of the setting sun" chome, 2-6, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan, by special (i.e., the declining aristocracy) a arrangement with New Directions Publishing Corporation, permanent part of the Japanese New York. language. And Dazai's heroine, Kazuko, the strongwilled young aristocrat who Copyright © 1956 by New Directions Publishing Corporation deliberately abandons her class, stands All rights reserved. as a symbol of the anomie which pervades so much of the modern world. Except for brief passages quoted in a newspaper, magazine, Dazai's writing is in some ways reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by reminiscent of Rimbaud, while he any information storage and retrieval system, without himself has often been called a permission in writing from the Publisher. forerunner of Yukio Mishima. Donald Keene, the distinguished translator, has First Tuttle edition, 1981 said of the author's work: "His world . . . Third printing, 1987 suggests Chekhov or possibly postwar ISBN 4-8053-0474-X France . . . but there is a Japanese Printed in Japan sensibility in the choice and presentation of the material. A Dazai novel is at once immediately intelligible in Western terms and quite unlike any CONTENTS Western book." Of this novel, Keene writes: " 'Victims of a transitional period in morality' is how Kazuko styles herself and her lover, and we feel that she is right. A modus vivendi with Western things has nearly been achieved, but the full effect of Western ideas has yet to be felt. The Setting Sun derives much of its power 1. Snake 2. Fire 3. Moonflowers 4. Letters 5. The Lady 6. Outbreak of Hostilities 7. The Testament 8. Victims
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THE SETTING SUN
the arrogant impatience with which it is too often accompanied. Japan today, alone of the nations of Asia, is Note on Pronunciation of Names closely connected to the West, not only in its industrial and political developments, but in its Japanese in transcription is active cultural life. The bookshops are full of pronounced with the consonants as in European (especially French) works of literature in English and the vowels as in Italian. translation, including all the latest and most Thus, the name Naoji is pronounced difficult ones. There are numerous coffee-shops nah-oh-jee. There is no marked stress where students gather to listen to records of accent, and one is safe in giving equal Beethoven and Brahms, if not of Debussy and weight to all syllables. Stravinsky. Even the banks send out calendars all In this novel most of the characters over the country with excellent reproductions of (such as Naoji, Kazuko, and Osaki) are Renoir, Van Gogh, or Matisse. It may be debated referred to by their personal names how deeply this interest in modern Western only. Where both personal and family literature and art penetrates, whether the farmer names are given, the family name in his village has any better understanding of comes first. Thus, in the name Uehara Goethe or Manet than his grandfather did. The Jiro, Uehara is the family name and Jiro fact remains that almost everywhere in Japan the personal name. education has brought with it a profound respect for Western culture, and sometimes a genuine Translator's Introduction love. This feeling has often been indiscriminate and The foreign visitor to Japan today is led to a defacement of the Japanese landscape apt to be at once delighted and which we may find all but unpardonable, but it has dismayed by what he observes. The not been only adulation for the West which has delight will probably stem from what is led to many of the changes so deplored by the old in the country — the temples set in foreign visitor. The Japanese woman who their clean-swept grounds and gardens, abandons the traditional kimono in favor of a the brilliant spectacle of the theatres, dress is not merely imitating some Hollywood the cordiality and charm of one's star; she is liberating herself from the nuisance of reception in any Japanese home. Most the elaborate series of robes and underrobes, travelers indeed are so captivated by unbearably hot in summer and impractical at any this aspect of Japan as to become time of the year in the offices and busses she excessively critical of what the past must cope with today. Even if she would like sixty or seventy years have brought nothing better than to wear a kimono every day, from the West. They bewail the fact the cost of the expensive silks makes the that many Japanese women have given traditional costume a luxury which few can afford up their beautiful kimonos in favor of unless they have inherited them. mass-produced dresses, that the The face of Japan is changing every day as Japanese house is all too frequently taste, convenience, and economic necessity marred by a "foreign-style" room with dictate. Underneath the surface, at an undeniably lumpish furniture obscurely derived slower pace, the moral and spiritual life of the from European prototypes, and that the country is undergoing similar change. The family streets are filled with the din of system is breaking up, especially in the larger clanging trams and squawking loudcities, and the traditional values associated with speakers. Those who complain in these the family are losing ground. Divorce, for terms are quite justified in their example, is now accepted (at least in Tokyo) as aesthetic indignation, although not in the alternative a woman has to an odious
marriage, although until very recently Tale of Genji, and, if not fluent in any Western she was expected to accept the flagrant language, uses a variety of French and English infidelity of her husband and any other phrases with certainty that she will be understood indignity he might choose to inflict on by everyone. At the same time, she remains her in the interest of preserving the unmistakably Japanese in her relations with the family. It will take years for such new people around her and in her quick emotional ideas to spread throughout the country, responses to the moments of intensity in her life. but even today few of the younger Because family confidences are almost impossible people share their parents' belief in the (except on the rare occasions when the traditional views. repressions of Japanese life are overcome by the As far as religion goes, one would force of intolerable emotions), Kazuko, her have to look very hard to find in Japan mother, and her brother live almost without overt even as much fervor as exists in this communication with one another. The author, country, let alone India. Although most Dazai Osamu, must therefore resort to various Japanese are nominally Buddhists and types of flashback techniques (including a diary, are buried, for form's sake, in letters, and a will) to create for us threeaccordance with Buddhist ritual, real dimensional figures. And although he succeeded interest in the religion is comparatively in lending extraordinary vividness to his unusual. If, for example, the Prime characters, there is much necessarily left unsaid Minister of Japan were to adopt the in this Japanese world. The Setting Sun owes practice of important political figures in much to European culture, but it is as Japanese a the United States and England (and novel as can be written today, in this period when elsewhere, of course) of invoking the the surface and inner manifestations of Japanese blessings of the Deity — any deity — on life are being Westernized at very different speeds the heads of the Japanese people, he and when (to a Western reader) the Japanese would be greeted with astonishment literature which reflects these changes is and possibly derision. It may seem surprising, alternately, for its closeness and strange that Japan, which has borrowed remoteness to our own lives. so much from the West, has never "Victims of a transitional period in morality" is taken more to Christianity. There has in how Kazuko styles herself and her lover, and we fact been a decline of interest in feel that she is right. A modus vivendi with Christianity since its high point at the Western things has nearly been achieved, but the turn of the century when many of the full effect of Western ideas has yet to be felt. The intellectual leaders were devout Setting Sun derives much of its power from its believers in a "churchless" portrayal of the ways in which the new ideas have Protestantism. This form of Christianity destroyed the Japanese aristocracy. The novel has not proved satisfying to most of created an immediate sensation when it first their descendants who, even if they appeared in 1947. The phrase "people of the remember the Bible lessons of their setting sun," which came to be applied, as a result childhood, find in them no adequate of the novel, to the whole of the declining solution to their present problems. aristocracy, has now passed into common usage The people whose lives are and even into dictionaries. Kazuko, her mother, described in The Setting Sun are in and her brother Naoji are typical not only of the many ways exceptional, but they are aristocracy but of the large class of Japanese who also typical of modern Japan. Kazuko, were impoverished by the war and the succeeding the girl who relates the story, seems inflation and land reforms. more accustomed to wearing Western In reading the novel one cannot escape the clothes than kimonos, is reminded as feeling that the author, Dazai Osamu, himself was often of Chekhov or Balzac as of The personally involved — that he was not only the
The tuberculosis from which he literature. In June of 1948 Bohème of Paris. An the following year to another woman. who still examination of his biography tends to survives him today. who narrates most of the intended for posthumous publication. the Department of French Literature at His most important literary activity came after Tokyo University. story. that clearly derives from Dazai's own Dazai had. Dazai. this time with the woman with When Naoji expresses the pain it has cost him to whom he had been living for the stay alive. Dazai knew no French the end of the war. The Setting Sun. The close connection between Dazai's life and Instead. later in the of his studies. although he was forced by Before he was twenty. and the title. In 1930 he entered country to another. legends surrounding the magical vie de The symptoms were unmistakable. his mentor. and Left-Wing political activity. a few words). This was partially even superior to The Setting Sun. The cumulative effects more matter-of-fact English literature. himself a addicted to morphine and was forced to member of a near-aristocratic family. the present volume. He was brilliant in This was especially true during the austere years his studies at school and early showed which preceded the war with the United States. The Disqualified. never learned more than same year.
. Again and hospitals before he could be cured. he finally succeeded in committing suicide. Kazuko. he spent his time in literary almost any. Dazai was born Dazai's life of wild dissipation gave him much in 1909 of a rich and powerful family of notoriety and caused even some unpopularity. and insomnia gave him and far more so than the philological an appearance of such utter ex-haustion as to problems of the classical Japanese alarm his friends. by Dazai withdrew from the University throwing himself into the swollen waters of the in 1935 without obtaining a degree. However. leaving in an envelope a objective works. of his works is immediately apparent. promise of his literary talent. His although as an artist he naturally did not confine stories had begun to attract attention himself to a mere recounting of autobiographical when in 1935 he again attempted details. the nineteenth of June. and yet we may find much in collection of fourteen of his stories with Naoji. chose to spend almost two years in and out of depict the decline of his own class. attempt. and partially because of the had suffered before the war and which he claimed universal credence given in Japan to to have cured by drinking again mani-fested itself. He also began because they found French Symbolism the serial publication of another novel with the or Surrealism more congenial than the English title of Good-bye. appeared in literature was the chosen field of many 1948 and was acclaimed by some critics as being young Japanese. Tamagawa Reservoir in Tokyo. through complete neglect included in New Directions 15) and. in the novelist Uehara. continued to publish. as well as He was exempted from military service because signs of the erratic habits which were of a chronic chest ailment. He was married in author who considered suicide so often. During the war he subsequently to darken his career. This was not surprising when one his body was discovered on his thirty-ninth considers that he boasted of not having birthday.story-teller but a participant. the north of Japan. The Setting Sun is actually one of his more suicide. Declining Years. Early in 1947 he published his when he elected this course (and brilliant short story "Villon's Wife" (which has been apparently. In again we find ourselves wondering to what degree 1936 there was another suicide Dazai shared the emotions of his characters. but at the time French His second novel. he twice the bombings to move from one part of the attempted suicide. Ironically enough. overwork. attended a single lecture in five years. become personality and experiences. confirm this impression. which was even in the girl. in the meantime. we seem to hear the voice of the previous six years. of dissipation.
The Setting Sun. the distinguished novelist and President the flashback. In this technique he betrays his debt to Japanese poetry. happenings (such as. but he is in fact and so moving to Japanese of all classes. her head still career. she turned her head to one side. and where the attempt of Mother uttered a faint cry.what gives The Setting Sun a strength to them.N. is perhaps unusual. got into the soup. CHAPTER ONE / SNAKE in which each word must be a vital part of the whole. Western reader to turn to Dazai for an exact however brilliant. He sometimes gives the last or Cambridge — New York climactic remark in a conversation first Donald Keene and then goes back to relate the steps leading up to it. seventeen-syllable haiku. the manner prescribed in women's magazines a country house. Another feature of of the Japanese P. This is why the novel was so successful literature is obvious. Club. It is generally conceded that Dazai is "No. seemed to lose all desire to characters. and this accomplished. in a way. a Tokyo hovel. with sociological document of help to those who wish which he was intimately familiar. unknown in the West. style offers no particular problems for It is a powerful and beautiful novel by one of the the Western reader. who has done so Dazai's style which the reader will note much to promote the understanding of Japanese is how he uses the description of minor literature abroad. Dazai can and have been painted of this same period. tempted to urge the that most of Dazai's other writings. himself. particularly the miniature. from these scant drops the world from I thought perhaps something disagreeable had which the poem has been distilled. who is determined certainly there are other pictures of Japan which to struggle rather than to die. and reveals aspects of the Japanese nation as a Dazai's indebtedness to European whole. generally lack is the picture of what life is like in Japan today. She was eating soup the author is to make the reader supply in the dining-room. fluttered another spoonful of soup evocativeness a great variety of places between her lips." Mother poured another spoonful of soup one of the great chroniclers of into her mouth as if nothing had happened." people and the atmosphere that belong
. a that it is no mere figure of speech in her case to cheap bar — and fills them with the use the word "flutter. the burning of the snake eggs or the swelling in the mother's hand) to suggest much larger situations. An effective device in This translation is dedicated to Kawabata his hands. He creates for us with amazing averted. major achievement was reached directed her gaze at the cherry tree in full bloom despite the shortness of his life and outside the kitchen window and. after his brief and not very Despite the specialized area of the subject matter animated participation in the Left-Wing and the deviant behavior of some of its movement. and his writings are almost understanding of the Japanese of today. but he uses one most brilliant of recent Japanese writers and literary device which. This contemporary Japanese life. Mother eats in a way so unlike — an old-fashioned mansion in the city. by the depth of its struggle. I am. although not stands as such in the world of literature. "A hair?" I asked.E. although character of Kazuko. evokes invariably tinged with cynical despair. But The more closely linked with the great Setting Sun is not to be considered as a classics of Japanese literature. His to learn more about an obscure or distant country. it is part of his fondness for Yasunari.
and pours the soup between her which I could not possibly have imitated." Mother. any pimp you might meet in the Mother's way of eating. guess what Mother is doing and scarcely so much as a glance at the now. in are trained to lean slightly over the the back garden of our house in Nishikata Street plate. still holding the spoon in the summer-house by the edge of the pond sideways." plate. Even such with refinement. Then. to take up a little soup with the — it was a beautiful moonlight evening in the spoon held sideways. what passes for the aristocracy might I have sometimes myself thought things would actually better be called 'High-Class taste better if we ate with our fingers. then transfers the fork to her right want to puke just to hear the hand and happily skewers one piece after highfalutin' language the idiot saw fit to another. on the other hand. She darts the spoon into the soup "Picking flowers. Once. "Just drop of soup or making the least sound of sipping because a person has a title doesn't or clinking the plate. a count). But being." and like a swallow — so gracefully and She raised her little voice in a laugh. Mother unconcernedly picks up the bone in which has nothing whatsoever to do her fingers and chews the meat off. "Kazuko. but I refrain Beggars. than when you look down to being pariahs than aristocrats. it is amazing how much better bestowed on them.Naoji. it made me knife and fork. and I have at times felt something akin to Take the matter of eating soup. Mother. This may not be the way of make him an aristocrat. into it. Just the way there uncivilized actions seem not only charming but used to be signs around the University strangely erotic when Mother performs them. Even normal table manners. genuine article. admiring the moon. I bend over the plate in the gloomy fashion he strike you as being more vulgar than prescribed by proper etiquette. When the meat appears supposing there was some necessity for she at once cuts it up into little pieces with her him to appear in that outfit. There's something My brother Naoji says that we are no match for about her none of us can match. while we are struggling to free the use when making a table speech. it might make the only one in our family. not only soup but streets? That damned fool wore a every-thing else. and others like us. The saying 'High-Class Lodgings. is quite a thing apart from tuxedo to his cousin's wedding. for example (mentioning one beggar and unable to eat with Mother's effortless of his school friends. soup tastes when you eat it as Mother does. "Weecleanly one can really use the simile — wee!" brings the spoon to her mouth at a right I felt there was something truly adorable in her angle. She on the edge of the table and sits called to me from among the white blossoms with perfectly erect. but to me it is are great aristocrats who have no other most appealing and somehow really genuine. doesn't ease. are closer sitting serenely erect. never spilling a to me when he had been drinking. once said spoon exactly like a little wing. she flutters the morning's soup. Again. a high-class Iwashima.' most of real things are apt to be deviant.' The real aristocrats don't put from doing so. who have nothing but titles. We despair at the difficulty of imitating her. Some people eating soup that etiquette dictates. That meat from a chicken bone without rattling the kind of affectation is a cheap front plate. but I recently learned from a book
. She's the me look a beggar plain and simple. As a title than the one that nature has matter of fact. with innocent This has been quite a digression from this glances around her. in Naoji's words. lips from the point. for fear that if a high-class beggar on silly airs like that Iwashima. Mama is like myself imitates Mother badly. when she got up and went lightly rests the fingers of her left hand into a nearby clump of flowering shrubs. and then to bring beginning of autumn — Mother and I were sitting it to our mouth. my younger brother. with her head held high a little laugh.
I was reading how in the days of the not sick anymore. South Pacific. had in a serious tone. only "Ah. from an American can I got on the something like a moment of absolute ration and made into a kind of potage. Mother's only concern was for me." thought nothing of relieving themselves "No." Mother. my divorce six years ago." I murmured." Mother said little cry had come out. her past as I had. I wondered. "Kazuko. "I thought I had given up all hope. At least that is what she says. Why. to be informed that it was not. and Mother. that we certainly will see him again. and it meal you enjoy most. She watched me eating never once "resigned" myself. and pushed it into My brother Naoji was called up while still at the my mouth." turn to ask. no." chopsticks. and yet there was I have never liked breakfast and am something. quietly rose and stood with her Mother has resigned herself to never seeing Naoji back against a wall warmed by the again. had At any rate. who had already finished her he is still missing. my "You made it very well." was too much for me. And a little cry — ah — as she sipped the yet. not hungry before ten o'clock. meal. shook her in the palace gardens or in a corner of head. I wish I had been better to "Do you enjoy it. and I wondered if Mother called lung trouble. but I have morning sun. While I dawdled over my food. checking her words. All I can think." Then." "It doesn't matter about me — I'm Along about the time that Naoji first entered
. you mustn't eat that way." while eating soup. Mother's recent illness. I "About Naoji ?" picked up a piece with my chopsticks. that strange faint cry couldn't help worrying about the soup. mashing them down. the corridors. "What's the matter?" This time it was Mother's "Perhaps it was too salty. with a sad smile. I understanding. as if I were feeding a little University and was sent off to some island in the bird. mouth. This time I had suddenly even after Mother said that nothing was recalled. morning I managed to get through the Mother?" soup. but when I You should try to make breakfast the ate your delicious soup I thought of Naoji. Such innocence really Five years ago I was laid up with what was charms me. and embarrassing thought. the way Mother holds a spoon "Perhaps." anything. and I asked if it were a hair. I giggled and Mother's face lighted haven't any confidence in my abilities into a smile. soup. comes from my lips. We have had no news of him. but it was an effort to eat "I've forgotten. as a cook." French monarchy the court ladies "But I'm the one who's not sick. The soup this morning was green We exchanged glances and experienced pea. is for a while in silence. and before I knew it. This "What was it you remembered just now. although I was perfectly well might not be one of the last of that kind aware that I had willed the sickness on myself. she ate some rice-balls she had recalled something embarrassing from wrapped in seaweed. though it is one of the few Whenever I am assailed by some painfully confidences a girl should have. After she had finished Mother uttered it too? It couldn't possibly be that the soup. of lady. Mother which I held at right angles to my leaned her head to one side and added. on the other hand. Mother?" him. even after the end of the war. all too vividly. No. this morning she let out really been nerve-racking and depressing. "Yes. I put some rice-balls on a "About me?" plate and poked at them with my "No. the events surrounding wrong.
The together some pebbles to serve as a gravebeautiful die young. This began to tremble. seeing what she thought was a thin black never be able to go into the garden cord lying near Father's bed. where it disappeared. in the shade of the wisteria trellis. about our bamboo thicket we would Mother. and started to another. grief to Mother. Just before Father passed away. Mother is beautiful. The children obediently knelt difficult. Anyway. sweet. That is why even Naoji and I (who
. And in spite of his but the eggs still did not look as if they would ever dreadful behavior. throwing the eggs into the flames one after absorbed in literature. for I made a pile of leaves and fear of disturbing the peace of Father's last brushwood near the thicket and set it moments. But I want her to live a long time. The girl went off laughing as if it were all very "Why should I? I'm bad and ugly funny. marker." teasing me. looked at each other but did not say anything. "You are being joined my hands. ----"You've done a very cruel thing. It glided said to the children. time. I gathered Scoundrels live a long time. Naoji as she ate her soup and uttered The girl from the farmhouse down the road that cry. They dancing with joy. "I thought they might be viper eggs. Mother was standing at the top. the vipers might get hatched. when Father died in our house in were to have a dozen vipers crawling Nishikata Street.high school he became fanatically afire." "Then they're just ordinary harmless snake's Mother smiled. and beautiful people. "About the size of a quail's egg and pure Naoji wouldn't die even if you clubbed white. we were doing. everybody. only to discover that it was a snake. but the eggs simply would not burn." I realized how unfortunate it was that found a dozen or so snake eggs Mother should have seen me. "Then I suppose that eggs and not viper eggs. "He's all right. My lower lip behind me and joined their hands in prayer. both! I'm good for eighty years!" The fire had been blazing for about half an "Really? In that case. your mother is hour. Naoji's all right." I protested. I angrily pushed the food into called from the other side of the fence to ask what my mouth and my eyes grew hot. stone steps." and the children followed me. Mother thought of burn. I was "Let's pray. I it up. One afternoon. They insisted that they were has had a mortal dread of snakes ever since ten viper eggs. but she fence. Only eggs." I said. casually went to pick without taking special precautions. "Let's burn the off into the corridor. and tears brimmed done I left the children and slowly climbed the over. a little perplexed. Mother and my uncle Wada noticed it. concealed in the stakes of the garden Mother is by no means superstitious. "We are burning viper eggs." The ones who die are always the "About how big are the eggs?" gentle. I gave snake. bury them under the plum tree. They did not catch fire for the longest lead a life almost like a delinquent. I had good for ninety!" the children retrieve them from the flames and "Yes." him with a stick. I'm terrified that Scoundrels like Naoji simply don't die. There's nothing to be upset ago." She was very well. four or five days them a regular burial." I knelt down and at a loss what to say. but they I wonder if I should tell about the were from an ordinary snake. The children put more leaves and twigs on causing Heaven only knows how much the flames and made them blaze more vigorously. you know." she said. Raw eggs don't burn you'll die an early death. the children of the neighborhood about. It occurred to me that if we years ago.
It something ill-omened in the act. This didn't especially frighten morning. but incidents involving snakes made Mother it had already vanished. yes. I finishing my work in the kitchen. I said to she took it calmly. She did not beauty of the snake. It appeared to from their holes to pay his spirit be searching for something. or the next. — on every bush and tree — there was It was the same snake that I had seen in the a snake. graceful snake. I happened to look out at the garden just in fear and awe. as if she strongest impression I received was one of the were thinking of something. or But I know for a fact from having the next. took out the volume of paintings. while I was drinking tea with more correct to say that she held them Mother. I was so tormented "Yes. I only felt somehow that the peacefully crossing the lawn. little. an azalea branch. sat down. My only reaction was one of mild revulsion. like myself. Later. It was me. the broom. serene morning. as though overcome with weariness. and had ended garden pond. the third step of the stone staircase. I saw the snake by the iris a little snake twined around the tip of stalks. I had the unbearable sensation ten years ago I was already nineteen. Or it might he Toward evening. there were snakes beautiful dying young." Then too the her head a little to the side. slowly over the lawn. by them. On the way back And yet it is true that these two I stole a glance at where I had seen the snake. seen it that on the evening of my I had blurted out that idiotic remark about the Father's death. gone by. when I went bough of kerria roses from the next into the garden intending to get from our library bush. I thought I would was walking by the pond intending to take a wicker chair out onto the lawn and do some cut flowers for the service. the wisteria. garden) a volume of Marie Laurencin's paintings. detest them ever after. I saw a snake there too. Later. It stopped when it snakes. "Is that the snake?" She burned the snake eggs. "It must be a female. In the afternoon. but after a few homage. This flashed into my mind what she was thinking. I am twenty-nine now. when I was clearing up the which means that when my father died breakfast dishes. no matter what I said. but my memories of what That same day I saw a snake in the garden. As I stepped down into the garden with a bank of azaleas and suddenly noticed the chair in my arms. I went to the storehouse and make any comment. Ten years have shorten Mother's life had crawled into my breast. that she came to dread as the snake again slowly crawled into view. in burning the eggs.happened to be in the room) knew evil curse to fall on Mother that I could not put the nothing about the snake." Mother's voice was strained. and after and I am not likely to be mistaken. when I whispered to moments dropped its head and fell to the ground. And yet this morning in the dining-room. and merely inclined myself. not that day. a delicate. Mother about the snakes in the garden. On the (which is in a storehouse at the bottom of the rose of Sharon next to it. lifted its head. clutching my hands. which I could not cover up twisted around all the trees by the afterwards. was a beautiful. It happened then are still perfectly fresh. up in tears. Then when I went to cut off a and began to knit. I stopped by knitting. she certainly rushed over to me with these words and stood must have felt that there was cowering beside me. realization brought home to me the "You mean the mother of the eggs?" I came out feeling that I had done a terrible thing with the words. were mourning my reached the shade of a wild rose. on the maple. the cherry tree a snake was crawling slowly. by the fear that I might have caused an We held each other's hands and stood in
. father's death and had crawled out and quivered its flame-like tongue. that some horrible little snake which would and no longer a child. When Mother discovered that I had Mother also noticed it. event out of my mind. This startled me a I carried the chair back to the porch.
but after our laughter had everything changed. we were told. however. Mother breath." I said in surprise. — Mother's younger brother and now "Yes. Uncle Wada's letter concluded. not knowing in summer. Mother sighed and sat Viscount Kawata's villa was for sale. The poor thing. I feel as if surrender that we left our house in I would just as soon move there as I am. The snake. and packing for the move began." she said.silence. grief-stricken mother snake. delicate shoulder and felt a physical "What has been decided?" agitation which I could not explain. I'm sure. was so lovely that "Are you going." I chimed in. and I were busy with such tasks as putting
. began to stir again. The looking for her eggs. touched It was at the beginning of December her hand to her forehead. stood on high ground with a good view and "That's what it is. had taken care of our household "Then you shut your eyes. It is The sun striking Mother's face made apparently necessary. Her face. Her face seemed a little thin and After my father died. who feeling. without Nishikata Street in Tokyo and moved to even opening my eyes. of the year of Japan's unconditional "Uncle Wada says that it's a nice place. I felt like flying to her. smiled faintly." resembled that of the unfortunate Mother left the next day a little after noon. that's so. for you to have a her eyes shine almost blue." were her only words. to sell the house and dismiss all the Uncle Wada also paid us a visit and made the servants. plum blossoms and was warm in winter and cool I giggled nervously. It occurred to me "I must. "It has been wandering around the At the end of November a special-delivery garden ever since this morning. the store. personal interview with the other party. and let out a little sigh. as if she might collapse on I placed my hand on Mother's soft. for whatever reason. believe that you will enjoy living there. we felt terribly depressed. hand against my desk. "Everything." She lifted her head and this rather Chinese-style house in Izu. watching the snake with bated two of us could live as we pleased. the somewhere in the country where the maid. it was Uncle Wada very beautiful. informed Mother that we couldn't go on The workmen came every day to our house as we were. that we had no choice but from then on." I letter arrived from my uncle. vanquished by the her only surviving blood relation — who purity of Mother's trust in Uncle Wada. so would which seemed to wear about it a faint you please come tomorrow to my office?" suggestion of anger." expenses. The house heavily on a chair. "before you have even ----seen what kind of house it is?" Mother raised one elbow to the desk. smiling in an almost then that Mother's face rather unbearably pathetic way. her only reaction apparently was to ask step and slithered off toward the irises. She snake we had just seen. and that the best thing for us necessary arrangements so that everything which would be to buy a nice little place was to be sold could be disposed of. She's included about half an acre of cultivated land. was famous for its Mother spoke in a voice of dejection. But with the end of the war We both laughed. that the escorted her back at about eight the same ugly snake dwelling in my breast might evening. "I what else to do. Okimi. and Uncle Wada died away. one day end by devouring this She came into my room and sat down with her beautiful." neighborhood. informing us that whispered. the spot. too. "It's all decided. Mother?" I asked. "He asked me to. With a and when Uncle Wada described to her our faltering motion it weakly traversed the situation." "But. him to do whatever he thought best. and I had the was accompanied by our former chauffeur. languidly coiled on understands less of money matters than a child.
" She moved soundlessly back anguish that the tears would not come. silently watching passed so many years to enter on a life of misery the blazing fire. wondered if the feeling I experienced then was That night. burning some waste-paper and straw. worse than I had ever much times had changed. Okimi slept on a "dignity of human life. Mother with obvious Mother suddenly burst into tears. Naoji and I had taken advantage of her It took about ten days to complete to grow up without concerning ourselves about the removal preparations. Mother had "No. or when Once I screwed up the courage to later I was sick and confined to my bed. "What's the that matter. she walked out of your father died." I lay there. Not even the slightest assistance.the clothes in order and burning rubbishsuch a feeble voice. in her room on bedding borrowed from my body stiff as a stone. word to Okiini and the other people in our employ I wish I could die in this house where who had come to say good-bye. already been dispatched. the baby was stillborn in the hospital. as I had expected. "Mother. Almost all the luggage had myself. unexpected remark. a neighbor. She lingered over one thing have you. and never before had she let in the garden. without begrudging us a penny. staring at the sofa while Mother and I slept together ceiling." and another as if every additional minute she I was taken aback by this could remain in the house was precious to her. Mother said in a voice which ----sounded so old and weak that it frightened me. salvationless hell it is to be without money. was alive. One evening anything. life I realized what a horrible. During to Izu?" the ten years since Father's death. when I was out in the garden with OkimiShe had spent it all on us. reluctance put on her coat. became our bedding had what people mean by the well-worn phrase already been packed. I been the kind of person who secretly devises happened to look up at Mother's face ways to increase her fortune. no matter how coloring was. and bowing without a "The best thing for me would be to die. but I was in such nothing. My Mother answered with a wan smile. For the first time in my seen it before. miserable. when Naoji had done something bad matter? Don't you feel at all like going — never had she shown such weakness. and she was Mother emerged from her room and being forced to leave the house where she had stood on the porch. a vague been just as easy-going and gentle as while he look on her face. but Mother gave us not me see her weeping with such abandon. A cold greyish wind in a cottage without a single servant. were all able to find seats. feel-ing incapable of the slightest motion. I to her room. she would never and was startled to see how poor her have wished for death that way. Mother because you are with me. or every day in her room dilly-dallying when I came back to Mother pregnant. on Naoji and myself. or when over something. a little sharply. If Mother from the west was blowing. and the had been mean and stingy and scolded us. weeping more and more The train was comparatively empty. Now Mother no longer had any money. or had smoke crawled over the ground. and we convulsively." She spoke in broken our house in Nishikata Street. She spent when my father died. "I am going to Izu The next day. because I seemed definitely ill. "It's heart filled with emotion. My uncle was in Never had Mother spoken to me in extremely good spirits and hummed passages
." was all she answered. accents. or when I was married. you don't look well!" I cried. "And what if you but Uncle Wada came to inform us that we had to didn't have me?" I asked in spite of leave that day for Izu. or. for ask her.
there the village doctor. then
. and began This was the whole house. at Nagaoka for a bus." I answered utensils from our baggage and prepared some with excessive gaiety. "It's thermometer to take her temperature. At any rate. road. We all three laughed. A village "It may possibly develop into pneumonia. and answered. "I'd like to lie down for a bit. that our lives had ended when we and the winter sun was gently striking left the house in Nishikata Street." Mother smiled. he gave Mother an injection and the sea appeared to be just on a level departed. He was very for breath from the climb." With this rather vague discerned. a grove of pines. rice-gruel. worried me so much that I ferreted out the "It really is. rode for about a Upstairs was a foreign-style room with a big bed. orchard of tangerine trees. "Yes it is. Wewould not be especially cramped for two of us. but I thought that it to walk toward the mountains. built with some to arrange about a meal for us. that we had nothing to hope It was about three in the afternoon. He returned sunlight here is entirely different from that day to Tokyo. little village. the former owner of of the cottage. dragged us there and made us sitstop. the sea could also be occasion for anxiety. she merely nodded drowsily. The air here is delicious. house was piled high with crates. Fresh I extracted the bedding from our baggage and air. Some whisky he imagined.000 yen with said dully. we were both pitiful. Tokyo sunlight. there is a fine view from the began to sob. pale and with her eyes rooms. presently delivered which he spread out in the "It's a pleasanter place than I had sitting-room and began to eat. got off. On the ground floor were two fairly good-sized Mother." she the house.from the No plays. I pressed Mother's little hand in mine and "Next. he Inside we found our belongings went off to the village in search of a doctor." degrees. the air is good. Something about her self-satisfaction. However. there is no in the distance. the garden lawn. As I sat in the drawing-room. pronouncement. Even my uncle seemed upset. still gasping had brought served to wash it down. when it started to grow dark. cheerful and insisted on relating his adventures in Mother stood in front of the entrance China with Viscount Kawata. The that Mother had to be hospitalized. among other things. a Chinese-style reception room. with my breasts. looked very cold We changed a bathroom. The tears would not away. Mother's fever did not go down the following "It's a gentle landscape. a hall. At the foot of a flight Some two hours later my uncle returned with of stairs that led from the lawn. instructions to telegraph him if it should happen "It must be because of the air. just outside which was a My uncle went out to the only inn in the village Chinese-style villa. even if pneumonia develops. It was 102 delicious. My uncle handed me 2. He seemed quite an old man was a little pond surrounded by plum and was dressed in formal. quite carried — no." I said. rather old-fashioned trees. a happy expression coming soon afterwards. Mother barely touched the food. and. the spot with Mother. Mother swallowed three spoonfuls. I thought as I wept that I would like to die on down to admire it." My uncle. Mother. she into her eyes for a moment. or climbed a gently sloping rise as far as a even for three if Naoji returned." "To begin with. She was so pitiful. A lunch was taste. murmured. then the dining-room and kitchen. rice fields. an Japanese costume." declared my uncle with evident helped Mother spread it. for any longer. and downcast. so terribly pitiful sitting-room. and beyond the garden. The front of the I called to Mother." Mother day. When arrived from Tokyo. isn't it? It's as if the rays I took the necessary minimum of cooking were strained through silk. quarter of an hour.
" the first moment or two of pleasure. "Your month. Now in April our to her room. At whatever time of the day one saw mother has quite recovered. was to be seemed to go blank before me. This time he Snowflakes big as petals had softly begun to was in slightly less formal attire." Her temperature had dropped to normal. suppose a resurrection like Jesus' is possible for
. lead an uneventful existence appeared in his formal costume again. I'm not fields. To tell the truth. mindedly. then turning to me said. "Who knows. as if she were talking to just as she said." the doctor said. and as we sat in the twilighted diningfrom bursting out laughing. and their fragrance flooded into the desires. She ate three and about half a cottage in the mountains. sitting next to still wore his white gloves. generally turned on our plans for cultivating the "He really is a great doctor. and only after the injection. read in the Chinese room. I soft-boiled From that day to the present. I suggested that it might perhaps be "I'm not sick any more. Mother's side." His answer the thought. with an blossoms." room whenever I opened the glass doors. I simply hated fever will probably abate." Mother said. Then everything profusely. It wasn't an attributed to the miraculous powers of ordinary sickness. longer in our house in previous time. a bright red and she began to perspire especially when it grew dark. But I don't expression on her face. One placid. This. watched the snow. we have some at once and served them to managed to continue our solitary lives in this Mother. as we knit on the porch. Toward His manner of speech was so the end of March a wind would spring up every peculiar that I had all I could do to keep evening. and he went away as Nishikata Street.shook her head." He examined Mother remained on the boughs until the end of the carefully. almost completely isolated from the world. we have already died. Even as sick any more. She may them. on the porch. even half a day. has up in bed. When I returned the window into our cups. drink tea The next day the great doctor — in other words. knit bowl of rice-gruel. only to herself. he may be from the person I had been. God killed me. windless day succeeded expression as much as to say "Exactly another well into March. She had a very happy come back to life as different people. again as if to herself. We prepare meals. Mother said. and the blossoms as I expected. it makes me feel as if everything that it to be necessary. after the "strong injection. I found Mother was sitting conversation. I felt half-dead when I had to soon as he had finished giving Mother board the train. but he fall. I threw open the blinds and. and when we arrived here. petals would blow in through the doctor to the door. perhaps. Mother says she would like to help. once better if Mother went to the hospital. did he call me back to a great doctor!" life. as I changed He had made me into someone entirely different her nightgown. I would have given anything to stay a was just as unreassuring as the day. I felt my That afternoon Mother's face turned heart would burst with longing for Tokyo. I was so happy that I ran to the ----village inn and bought a dozen eggs from the proprietress." she said absentI write these words the thought strikes me that. administer a strong injection. In He nodded gravely when I thanked him February the whole village was buried in plum for the success of the injection. shall I open the blinds? It's snowing!" doctor appeared again. "I do not believe this way. and the when the time came for moving. I showed room drinking tea. Today I shall has happened was just a dream. A little before noon the "Mother. the blossoms were breath-takingly therefore eat and do whatever she beautiful. "When I sit here with you "No.
ordinary human beings. very serious punishment provided by thinking that they were already out. I had left them next to the woodpile. "I'll come at once. Late one night I got up to wash my the scars of my past healed. Mother spoke law. have conflagrations. Nakai had apparently already retired. I can't escape the feeling that I flew to the farmhouse below our garden and some threatening. please don't only to make Mother's unhappiness the worry. he dashed Mother. but in I was responsible for starting a fire. The blaze. one took them just a few minutes to get a relay of ill-fated thing after another occurred to buckets going and put out the blaze. indeed. entrance hall. but she grows Mr. and as I passed by the screen in the Oh. I flew back to the fire. Nakai to more. was so intense that we could not possibly have extinguished it that way. however. She was state I am in. I could see then that the pile of has been a short period of respite firewood which had been stacked beside the vouchsafed by God to my mother and furnace was blazing furiously. It was only had never even dreamed that such a dreadful thing would happen to me. which fattens however much I out of his house." viper lodges which fattens by sacrificing While I was still urging him to hurry. when she tasted the "little lady" as not to have been aware of the soup this morning she thought of Naoji obvious fact that carelessness leads to and uttered that cry. . Just as we began to which comes with the season." I led more profound and to weaken her. And in my breast a he answered from inside. Nakai. I noticed a light coming from the down plainly and absolutely without bathroom. It During the ten days that followed the incident with the snake eggs. I realization of what had caused the fire. having once down. I at then that it occurred to me that the disaster had taken place because the previous night. after I once endangered the lives of every.. the flames would intensify Mother's unhappiness and have spread to the roof. I threw down my bucket. still in his bedclothes. I rushed to the side door and ran and a sham. CHAPTER TWO / FIRE Fire at the villa!" Suddenly four or five farmers broke through the fence and rushed up to us. hands. I must have been brought up so very much the but all the same. and I could hear an ominous mountains is nothing more than a lie crackling. try to suppress it. and caught Mother in my arms. "Mr. I would like to write everything. myself. but thinner by the day. no. If the fire had lasted just a little longer. the next instant I was aghast at the sudden That I should have started a fire. as if the past were already forgotten. climbed up to the snake eggs certainly shows what a gallery. Even assuming that this outside barefoot. "Thank Heavens" was my first thought. Please go back to bed. "Mother. dark shadow is beat with all my might on the door. Mother Fire! Fire! Please get up! There's a fire!" pretends to be happy. Everything I do seems on the point of collapse. This time I dipped written that word I can write nothing water from the bath and passed it to Mr. Nor. I heard voices shouting below. one around me and risked suffering the removed the unburned sticks of firewood from the furnace. "There's a fire. This
. I sometimes secretly discover that the glass door of the bathroom was think that the peace of this house in the a glowing red. already hovering closer to us. and draw water from the pond with some buckets. her back to bed and having persuaded her to lie As for love . shorten her life. I gave it a casual glance only to concealment. If it is only something We raced back to the fire. . throw on the burning woodpile. I nothing more! That I could have done heard Mother call from the gallery next to her such a depraved thing as burn the room. It's all right.
mistake." classes the proverb in the Bible. the of breath. Is your that was meant to be burned. I went then to the kitchen all I could say. "What's all the fuss about? proprietress of the village inn. my mind a blank. and began to shout all out disposing of the burned woodpile. I felt utterly lost. the policeman. "I understand perfectly. The tears came welling where I spent the time until it grew light in making up. tenderness. with his usual gentle smiling sky. then said." I murmured in apology." for my good fortune in having a mother so full of Just then Mr. word behind her chair. "A word fitly "Anyway. She was of me." gradually to drift away. in a tone of said. How did it happen?" Somehow the thought of appearing before Mother "It was all my fault. came trotting up Just a little wood got burned. in an armchair. As I stood there rooted to the voice what the policeman had said. What happened last night?" Tears obviously trying to cover up my stupid shone in her eyes. She moment I suddenly became aware of smiled when she saw me. among those who appeared. and face. thought came to me then that the I tiptoed to Mother's room only to find that she police might arrest me and drag me off was already completely dressed and seated." He was heard about it." They all left except I discussed with Osaki how I should express my for the policeman. Please remember "Oh. It never from the garden gate. I answered. was it? Only firewood sympathy. She added. Nakai reappeared. feet. ground. "it's a good thing and I thanked God from the bottom of my heart that the house didn't catch fire. murmuring expressions of The village mayor. Nakai asked in a tense tears. Mr. and in a voice so faint it was only a the opinion that money would be most suitable breathing said. "They said it was all right." said the "There's nothing to be sorry about. "What happened? I just turned into a real fire. "If
." trying to comfort me. and I could see the first traces of the dawn. made as I stood there barefoot in my I did not smile in return but stood without a night-gown. It was a remembered from childhood Sunday school dreadful shock for her. and at the same looking absolutely exhausted. "It wasn't anything. "No report will be made and suggested the houses I should visit with on what happened tonight. my eyes on the ground. I thought that frightened me." "We'll be going now. frightened. The mayor by the burned woodpile.spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. "I understand. In tears I looked up at the asked. face. but her face was the shamefully disheveled appearance I dreadfully pale. Nakai wished me a good night and and the head of the fire brigade were started off. After a little while. He spoke for a few the police?" minutes with the policeman. having changed his clothes in the After finishing a light breakfast." said the young policeman. Mother The mayor quietly asked." presents of money and apologies. Osaki. for they began furnace." She looked genuinely glad. I "She is resting in her room. and I stood there incapable of a quite unnecessary rearrangement of the speech. who walked up to thanks and apologies to the village. relief. Then I stood alone.discovery made me want to burst into After he had gone Mr. I heard the girl from the house "He told me that they wouldn't make a report. The place is gutted." This was arranging my hair." mother all right?" I was swept by a wave of happiness. What about mayor nodding. like a criminal." in front say in a loud voice. the firewood had burned out. and I idled around the bathroom. "Some-body The neighbors who were still standing around must have been careless about the apparently caught my words. "I am sorry. that's a relief. "You must have been terribly I went to wash my hands. I set to work meanwhile. me to your mother. The cooking utensils.
but I've been watching with my Last year nothing happened heart in my mouth the way you two The year before nothing happened
. He case. may belong to the nobility. pleasant memory I have of the war. into tears. I have felt fright that I had to go back home to put somehow as if the color of my blood has turned a on some fresh make-up. The sneakers I now wear when I work gave me the strength to make all the in the fields are the ones the Army issued me. If there "Can you manage it alone? If you had been a strong wind last night. "Please forgive me for last I began from the following day to devote my night. I looked such a disgraceful act of having started a fire. this time without once That was the first time in my life I had put such weeping. Nishiyama said. This "It must be a terrible ordeal for you. and I gave the packet whole village might have burned down. Please forgive me and caused Mother's but have blackened forever my convey my apologies to the mayor. for all I know. The supposing there had been a strong wind. for me considering the reckless way you live. Manual labor. relief when I go out into the fields to dig the earth." only a miracle you haven't had a fire before." I answered. for instance. I suppose one would call it. What a dreary "Please be careful in the future. When. Nakai's ran through the streets with the tears daughter sometimes helps me. like children playing house. I couldn't rest in my grave if I died in say anything. It's by yourself. but I called first at the village hall. I burst atonement for having started a fire. I appeared. it would be. When I had finished disposing of the Things were really exactly as she described. Mr." village would have gone up in flames. On the outside I wrote the Mother had tried to comfort me by making the words "With apologies. couldn't dislike her in the least for having scolded which I wrapped in little packets of 100 me. and it comes as a "I've only just begun. Mrs." "I'll go alone. Please be to go alone?" sure to take the utmost care from now on. I know that the aristocracy is now I next visited the house of the fire not what it once was." Father's name. Ever since my pouring down my face." I felt the truth of Mrs. but if it must perish in any chief. Nishiyama's accusation. I'll join you. I was Mother's tone was warmly conscripted during the war and even made to do understanding." I took a precipitous leave and energies to working in the fields. not lifting my face. "It would be best. Mr. Nishiyama's young wife — I say the light-heartedness of the bird or animal that young but she's already about forty — walks barefoot on the ground. I was just little darker. I would like to see it go down as elegantly as gave me a sad little smile but did not possible. the whole can. You business the war was." is not the first time I've done such work. I asked Mother for some money. as if I am becoming every day more about to set out again when Mother of an uncouth country girl. "Not finished yet? Where are sit on the porch knitting with Mother. the mayor was out. That is the only was the only one who rebuked me. wouldn't it. If that had happened." joke about the firewood being for burning. but from now on I shall apology. things on my feet. but they were surprisingly Wherever I went the people comfortable. just as to the girl at the reception desk saying. yen each. not "What I did last night was even my suicide could have served as sufficient unpardonable. It was her love which coolie labor.you had rather not make the rounds all have been living. and when I walked around the sympathized and attempted to console garden wearing them I felt as if I could understand me. and my death would not only have be most careful. He himself came to the door. For some reason. rest of the calls. I feel you going this time?" strangely cramped and choked. and I wood.
"Perhaps because you from the following day I would have to look like a foreigner. come here." He spoke with a smile." suddenly frowned and pointed at me.And the year before that nothing happened. smile. Of course all kinds of things soldiers. "Victory followed him. all of them with frozen little faces on the egocentric view of it. all our plans will be way every day. We listened with all due reverence to his people died. I The mountain was smouldering in the rain as hate talking about the war or listening we stood there. In "No. I also included boys and girls from the elementary suppose you might say I take a very schools. Today please just watch over this thwarted. The rain went through my coat. Many women. conscripted and forced to do coolie penetrated my jacket. flashing his white
. The man answered firmly. I was shouldering baskets was entering its really desperate phase." report on alternate days at a base in "Do I? Do you also think I'm a spy?" the mountains behind Tachikawa. I asked the girl carrying earth papers and a schedule listing the days I next to me what made the boy say such a thing. "It must be very hard working that Army orders. "Victory is a certainty. but when I try possible caution not to reveal to other people to recall them now. my heart pounding with is a certainty. in spite of the drenching rain. and finally soaked through labor in sneakers was I able to think of to my underwear. it except in terms of its dreariness. That was the quite robust. I can always get the mountains I had the impression that the along by performing manual labor.
Okinawa. I experience that under any circumstances what you have seen. He stopped by a pile of preamble. We want you without fail to do every bit of the work you are given. I discovered that She answered seriously. There is no telling An amusing poem to this effect whether spies have been planted among you. think that if ever I have difficulty in Two or three times while I was out working in eking out a living. The next time at the base I coolie labor. "Hey you. close to five hundred men and to other people's memories. and it bores me now." she answered. of earth one day when a couple of them passed a man dressed in a kind of military by. about the time that the war disagreeable manner." same feeling that nothing happened. I I spent that whole day carrying baskets of often had harsh thoughts about the earth on my back. but it was still a address. The unit dreary business. "The Army One fine morning which I had spent hauling has work for you. you are to be on guard against one another. but timber just brought from the saw mill. and we want you to exercise every actually did take place. An officer You. this time with a little spite of myself. and you yourself must logs along with the men. "I suppose a substitute wouldn't do?" "I am a Japanese. but thanks to it I became tugged ropes in a team of laborers." delivered us a sermon as we stood lined He walked quickly toward the pine forest." he said by way of nervousness and fear. The next day it rained. and turned unless everybody does exactly what the around to me. schoolboys were staring at me in a most One day. You appeared in a newspaper just after the will now be working in military positions just like war ended. Only when I was verge of tears. and even now I sometimes work I liked best. I found myself in tears. the young officer go. was required to work. and we will have another lumber. words." I said and couldn't keep The tears kept flowing and I had begun from giggling at the obvious silliness of my own to sob. "Think she's uniform came to our house in Nishikata a spy?" Street and handed me conscription I was astonished. and I up at the foot of the mountain. and I heard one of them whisper. Next. I know.
That was the only day I was able bored. I The fire. but isn't much of a book. today you stand guard duty. She met. South Pacific. just like that." With these words. and goes around the looked at his face." to take it easy. is not particularly distressed even by the hardest "Thank you very much. but now I find I have told all about my now. and stretched out to read the book. Far from reprimanding me. but the shock she received come today. for burning. crawled up on top of the lumber pile The snake eggs. uneasiness deep in my heart. "I have on another digression. I wanted to express my thanks." "precious experience. mine filled with tears. at least. That's terrible. I young officer before. but the words did not come. when the crunching of his boots The mention of the sneakers took me off again announced the officer's return. Mother has of late When I had finished the lunch." since the fire Mother sometimes groans in her I ran up to him and held out the sleep. and tossed it shyly on the boards. but please read it the work actually made me stronger than ever if you like. It must be very although wearing what may be called my unique tedious being here alone. low-class woman. and the "It's cool and quiet. perhaps you'd like to read this. "Oh. someone in my family also who likes I said that I hate to discuss the war or hear books. "It Mother worried a great deal about my health. and when our eyes house making sure that everything is all right. all that remains of my war read the book. I sat on the lumber pile and began to Idiotically enough." He deposited memento of the war and going out into the fields the lunch box on the grass and hurried every day helps to relieve the secret anxiety and off again. feel as though I am sudden impression that I had seen the steadily turning into a coarse. your memory of the war I ever feel the slightest husband. and you can take young officer never again appeared at the place a nap on top of the pile. There's labor in the fields. "At any summed up by the poem: rate. If you get where I worked. he strode And the year before that nothing happened. I woke after three with the while I. I had read about half experiences is the pair of sneakers. From then on I went every other He took a small volume from his pocket day to Tachikawa to do my stint of hard labor. You may leave now if you was certainly ten times as great as mine. but he's in the South Pacific about it. "You mean I should stand here?" We parted without words. Ever wish. she "Thank you very much for having seemed to pity me. a woman who It was called Troika. The rest might aptly be He shook his head in sympathy. Some days even walking seems
. pile and was just smoothing down my Mother has never said a word concerning the hair when I heard the crunching of his fire except for her joke about the firewood being boots again. quite on the contrary. read the whole thing through and Mother's health has shockingly deteriorated nodded off.teeth." But that's about the only He misunderstood. Then tears never looks well. and even now I am. but I should add that brought your lunch. but where I could can't escape the feeling that it is by sucking the not recall." inclination to relate." before. off rapidly. and on nights when a strong wind is book. she slips out of bed any number of times. shone also in his. I clambered down from the life-breath out of Mother that I am fattening. I'll bring your lunch box myself later on. I been growing weaker day by day. blowing. In silence I however late it may be. Last year nothing happened You just rest without worrying about The year before nothing happened anything. I picked it up.
while Mother was watching this man. she insisted on carrying five or six I stiffened all over. Once respects. the man said that he's certain to be cured by the "I don't like them. She added.a great strain for her. But they bloom in there's no immediate likelihood of finding a job for all four seasons. he had taken to drugs. Naoji has become a rather serious me work." would be for us to take care of him here in the "What is it? If it's about your dying. great bucketfuls of water from the well. that we should waste no time in finding for you but I was waiting for a moment when either a husband or else a position in some we were both in a good mood. household. and what with the blossoms were at their end. He suggests meaning to tell you for quite a while. and the blocking of savings and the capital levy. I ask you please to restrain yourself and expressed a desire to help me in the listen until I have finished. had one unpleasant thing to report. "Five or six days ago I had a letter from your The next day her back was so stiff she Uncle Wada." I did not answer but went on bitter." I "Yes." anywhere else. I wonder if people who someone in his frame of mind. and beginning of summer. and then. confusion — and a semi-invalid who has just "Won't you rest a bit?" Mother recovered from narcotic poisoning might go asked. Even perfectly like roses best have to die four times normal people become rather peculiar nowadays over again." her. He went to your uncle's office to pay his given up the idea of manual labor. quite by accident. She continued he finally ran up such an enormous bill at the softly. Your uncle's letter goes on to loud. It is already the of a certain novelist. It seems that a man who used to could barely breathe. "We have plenty of oleanders. He says the wisteria trellis. she suddenly remarked. He doing. mountains for the time being and not let him go no thanks." say that even if Naoji is cured when he returns "I like roses best. Kazuko. He seems to have taken it up again. And. especially when Naoji arrives and "There's something I've been there are three of us to take care of." "They say that people who like summer "Again!" flowers die in the summer. still smiling. but pharmacist's that it had taken Mother two years to we haven't a single one in this garden. I like almost all time he gets back because they won't let him summer flowers. You see. the best thing today." pay it in full. opium addict. It the leaves fell on our laps and dyed will be extremely difficult for him to manage our them green. and although I had discouraged is alive. The wisteria that our money is all gone. I wonder if My mouth twisted as if I had eaten something it's true. "I have berserk in no time. he won't soft afternoon sunlight filtering through be able to send us as much as he has before. When Naoji was in high school. The truth is that Naoji fields. but oleanders are too return otherwise. That's one thing. in imitation watering the eggplants. But answered in an intentionally sharp tone. There's no telling what he something I'd like to talk over with you might do. I followed Mother to a bench under your uncle had another thing in his letter. living expenses. "I am very fond of hibiscus. your uncle wrote that he knew of a family
." it's not a very easy thing to discuss. After that she appeared to have Pacific. She had about it. But "As a servant?" today I feel somehow as if I can talk "No. She spent the day work for him has recently returned from the South in bed. According to Today." if they work in Tokyo — what with all the We both laughed. it came out in a while she walks out into the fields that he had been in the same unit with Naoji and but only to observe intently what I am that Naoji is safe and will soon be returning. It Naoji comes back.
and was weeping. still sobbing. wept my very love me. I had always without budging from your side. When she stood and confronted me. filled with a dignity she had never shown me "No! I've had enough of such talk!" I before. somewhere I can go." but away. I'll go. I ran to the foreign-style room on won't hire me there. Gradually out of my grief. spoke these words was shaking with anger. "I mustn't.that's related to us and in the peerage more than you love me. I have myself." Mother's voice as she the depths of my subconscious. I wanted to can do something. she burst out hysterically. where I washed my face and hands. expressed self. in my mother's love. all I want is to spend my whole flesh away. where you could have a position as I've never been able to get along with Naoji and it governess to the little girls. Instead I uttered wretched sneakers — look!" I was quite different ones. I am. "Look at me in these would not come from my mouth. isn't it? say that if you didn't have me you Poverty — what's that? Money — what's that? I would die? That's why I've stayed here don't understand such things. I'm sick of this life. in that at here I am wearing these sneakers least. And believed in love. I mustn't. You're getting rid that you were going to Izu? Didn't you of me because I'm a fool. and work. but they could not be stopped. As long as you covering my head in the blankets. We've lived together for a long time. only once clothes? Why don't we sell this house? I again to be overcome with weeping. Poverty is nothing. and now Mother in the face. until I had drained every tear working at the village office. "Everything will My words seemed horrible even to be all right if I'm not here. But you love Naoji aimlessly. "You've deceived me. and this involuntary too much. too much. Now Mother turned her head away abruptly. Her face was answer. It's work in the fields." leave today. knowing even as looked almost taller than I." embarrassment kept me distant. changed my clothes. I'll go." as if they had an existence of their own. but I brushed the tears away Mother. poured forth. 'Go cling to her. But I I wanted to beg her pardon. I have somewhere I can go. advantage of because I'm a fool. just the two of job. A voice within me that you no longer need me you're sending me repeated. Mother smiled sadly but did not "Kazuko!" Mother spoke severely." have nothing to regret in our relationship. It's best I go. I'll would be impractical for you. I can do coolie the second floor. more. don't you? I'll go. having no connection with my I let out a cry and burst into tears. I'm sick of it. I've been taken because of me. She you hear that Naoji's coming home. I can get a job weep more. unforgivable way. grow vegetables you would like. Then my mind began to wander life by your side. I did so that I would regret it." "Why impractical?" I stood up. I why don't we sell all our expensive went to my room. the desire for
. You were using me with the back of my hand and looked until Naoji came." you. crying. at once. and if they from my body. you've deceived me. That would only bring unhappiness to all three of us if I probably wouldn't be too depressing or stayed. Now "I wonder if there isn't some other you and Naoji can stay together. I hope for your sake he'll be a very good son "He says that any other profession to you. because you had me. threw myself on the bed. "Yes. I've been your servant. but my hands were dirty from my off and become a servant!' you say. "Didn't you once say that it was I lifted my head. I wanted to beg her pardon and to suddenly you find me in the way." because my only thought has been to Again I spoke in that stupid. I'll go. and I awkward for you." words. but the words couldn't stop. as if from "You are very foolish. With these words I ran off to the bathroom "If we're poor and our money's gone.
Can "Yes." absolutely unique to man — having secrets." "Mother. It's a faculty "Kazuko. I had that very particular "Please do. no matter how we'll sell our clothes. there was one way I thought of. It's unreasonable to expect "Not to Mr. Hosoda?" Suddenly there flashed across my mind an I did not answer.a certain person crystallized in me. Kazuko. principles. Man boasts of being the lord of all unhappiness had made me hate and creation." name in a very gentle voice. I sat on the bed in silence. Let's live "Perhaps. but don't wept and stormed as if I had gone off all the other animals have them too. looked at her face and smiled. the strain of daily way in which human beings differ completely from work in the fields had begun to take its other animals. But my memory was that I had felt grateful to I got up and sat on the bed. for whatever but groundless suspicion on my husband's part." you see what I mean?" "What did you mean by saying that Mother blushed faintly and gave a charming you had somewhere to go?" smile. Hosoda had already been a answer to his. and one must bear say a word of reproach. I don't suppose you can still be extravagantly. Mother. Every morning I pray to your the nape of my neck. my eyes But. to ago?" hear his voice. father's spirit to make you happy. and my tears had been of happiness. "If your secrets only bear good fruit. Where was it then that work in the fields any more. I knew it my children's affairs to me. "May I getting out on the way. does not differ in the least from other animals. Mr. toll. it will I could tell that I had turned red to be all I could ask. Let's buy you meant when you said you had somewhere to our vegetables even if they are go?" expensive. Perhaps you won't understand." you to spend every day working like a "Really? Then where?" farmer. I don't want to let you thinking of Mr. Man has. I wrote a letter in terrible shock. could never come to anything. requesting him to leave married man for years and had children. I way. Do Toward evening Mother came softly you remember? You burst into tears and I realized into the room and switched on the light. and bring up something that happened a long time I yearned unbearably to see his face." I whispered. and social order. I know." useless things we feel like. We'll sell our much you loved him. I did not intend to soles of one's feet. but there was one thing the pain without flinching. and how the autumn fields
. that I had been wrong to say such a terrible She approached the bed and called my thing. It was sank into the sofa under the window. image of driving with Father through Nasuno and Mother gave a great sigh. but it would seem as if essentially he resent everything. I am sure that the reason why I knowledge." "Mr." clothes one after another and use the "Lovers — what a thing to say. language. sensation one experiences when the "When you left your husband and returned to doctor prescribes cauterization of the the house in Nishikata Street. Hosoda. recently I have discovered the one To tell the truth. That news came as a first time in my life. "When I said that you had betrayed me it was Mother also smiled faintly and then not because you left your husband's house. averted. "I because I had learned from him that you and that have just disobeyed your uncle for the painter Hosoda were lovers. Hosoda's. It was nothing money just as we please. that made me say that you had betrayed me. Mother at the time for talking to me in such a sweeping both hands over my hair. granted the my head was that the combination of difference of degree? Perhaps the animals even physical exhaustion and my have religions.
The pale rose wool originally weakened Mother to the point of killing her. But somehow the faded color failed to forgive me. The autumn flowers asters. It embers of our happiness still glowed. as if it thought to myself. Mother had chosen the everything grows misty and dark before pale rose wool because she knew just how lovely my eyes. Today I took a wicker these twenty years until I was able to appreciate chair out onto the porch. A terrible emotion — shall I call it velvet. I had had my own way. came from a scarf that Mother knitted for me pinks. The end of the scarf was formed into a Later Father and I boarded a kind of skullcap. The scarf was very different in color from the weeds brushed against my legs. and I feel that the strength of it would look against the snowy winter sky. intending to the beauty of the color myself. At times good taste is. I had never suspected that the important thing was to consider the match a CHAPTER THREE / costume makes with the color of the sky. What a MOONFLOWERS beautiful. anything on me. and I felt as if.looked. I jumped into at myself in the mirror." I was at last able to say it. our real hell began. The picture bore no it that I had refused to wear it again. as I remember them Today. I A sensation of helplessness. having nothing else to do. making a harmony of colors so soft and mild that no words could describe it. and when I put it on and looked motorboat at Lake Biwa. valerians -were all in twenty years ago. Those days. sky were blending into one. distinctly alone sufficed to make me loathe it with an reflected on the bottom of the lake. was only while I was knitting that I realized the Once Naoji returned from the South pale rose of the wool and the grey of the overcast Pacific. were the last in which the dying the spur of the moment and idly began to knit. in I slid off the bed and threw my arms the pious intention of resuscitating a dead around Mother's knees. This spring it came to light. I felt so ashamed to be seen in moved with me. makes my pulse falter. The more I reflected the more certain it seemed that
. and that fact the shadow of my legs. During all this time Mother had Of late a gloomy rain has been falling almost incessantly. The wool I held in my hands became vibrant heart. and scarves my school friends wore. Whatever I not said a word of explanation but had waited do depresses me. gentians. I took it out on now. At the same moment work again on the sweater which I began to knit this spring. It is amazing were utterly impossible to go on living. and for years relation to what Mother and I had been it had lain hidden away in a drawer somewhere. wonderful thing color harmony is. I remembered a Monet painting of a cathedral in the mist. how when one unites the grey of the sky with the Painful waves beat relentlessly on my pale rose of the wool. but it flashed into my mind. I had for the first time understood what only to release it. I only to vanish. and I had put the yarn aside again. unreasoning fury. and the cold rainy sky was soft as sky. The wool is of clouds of dread and apprehension suddenly a somewhat faded rose. and I am eking welled up within my breast as I wondered whether it out with cobalt-blue yarn to make a Naoji and I between us had not tortured and sweater. a little imp stared back at the water. I thought what a wonderful Mother I had. for Mother never attempted to force my finger tips. rather surprised. "Mother. discussing. decided to make it into a sweater for myself. Good taste. but in my whole body is oozing away through my foolishness I had disliked it. please possession. and I unraveled it. thanks to the an apprehension — wrings my heart wool. school. interest me. The little fish that live in the me. and chokes my breath. The wild grapes were still green. both colors at once come alive. when I was still in elementary bloom. as after a thunderstorm the white clouds frantically scud across the with warmth.
off to inspect the house. one would think you got two or three men. It's just like you to paste this. I only meant to say that it was are not meant to go on living in such a world as typical of you." I of them had bloomed." "That's because I haven't any I went to the village inn and begged the children. People like Mama "No. With my eyes still shut. "What a horror! What atrocious taste I was confused. They've seeing me. The thought filled nine!" My cheeks burned with shame. I taciturnity of late. I knew. A great may have been the cause of her exceptional sigh shook me. For some days now she has been strength left my fingers. One summer a corner of the room. leaning over a desk inthe South Pacific." Mother had taken to bed two or three days The roses in front of the porch had before with a pain in her tongue. exaggerated enthusiasm just to have Just at this juncture. I had examine her. slamming the wooden gate voice. in honor I was quite taken aback by my own of my brother's return." I'm going to get drunk. I followed behind him. "The roses have Mansions: Chow Mein'!" bloomed at last. At meal times she could only had now been transplanted here from get down a thin soup. reading a book. In an unnecessarily for a house! You should put out a sign 'China loud voice I declared. of a He sat for a moment by Mother's pillow and indark purple. bloomed at last. "He would only laugh at me. Did you know it. Is there any saké? Tonight were discussing live people. his face could hear a man's voice. was doing. Before I knew what I obedience to Naoji's instructions. It was as if I clearly repeated this information to Naoji. he had burst answered with a note of doubt in her into the garden. but to cover my painted her tongue with Lugol.the future had in store for us only saying. like a voice on the telephone. his face sallow. and which made him a
." Mother said gently. Mother's illness unnerved me. and that my knitting needles on my lap." proprietress to let me have a little saké. The her book. When I knitting on my lap. evening. but Mother shook her head and said been fully aware this morning that one with a forced smile. Naoji came. I could not been brought back long ago by Uncle detect anything abnormal about the tip of her Wada from France — or was it England? tongue. "What do you expect — she's twentyhorrible. She's grown thin. The flowers. Are you sorry for me?" be best for her if she died soon. a scratchy darkened into an expression the like of which I bass. I had cried. and I dropped wearing a gauze mask over her mouth. me with such nameless fears that I felt Mother made no comment but went back to almost incapable of going on living. I suggested that the doctor our house in Nishikata Street. never before had seen. but I was told that they remark. These were Naoji's words of greeting on first Mother? I just noticed it now. but she said that the slightest movement at any rate some distant country — and hurt her unbearably. That was all strength. — he immediately sprang to his feet and rushed "Yes. without a word of warning. She was too pathetic even for me to look at pictures by Renoir on the kitchen match her. adding. It'd "Perhaps." boxes or to make handkerchiefs for "How about me?" dolls. evil things. behind him. "Such things seem very "How do you find Mother? Changed?" important to you. but it had no embarrassinent I pretended with apparent effect. "Mother!" Naoji had returned a week or so before from "Yes?" Mother. had a sombre pride and clined his head in a word of greeting. discovered the fact. I nervously fingered the were unfortunately just out of stock. To hear you talk about the roses "You've coarsened. Your face looks as if you've in the garden." "She's changed all right. She wore the mask in lifted my head.
Is it all I exploded. I had made baked not well. He Naoji returned late that night. Soak some waiting. large. and had even put "I'm sure it's psychological. I am looked unbelievably beautiful from the worried about her. "Damn it! You don't know how and smoking a cigarette. the girl from the inn. I was quite Osaki nodded as if she were taken aback.stranger. The more I let my thoughts run along netting. She is out of bed now. will it?" inflamed." Her pop-eyes that?" bulged even more than usual. one of Naoji's favorite dishes. I can't help "There's nothing to tell. It is a sure The next morning Naoji." whispered urgently. but in vain. I've forgotten. No doubt he is amusing light. "It won't make him sick if he drinks even glasses or an eye-patch if her eyelids are it. and I wonder what can be train window. While I was you. but still . ." solution. will you wear one?" "Let him drink it then. . . Very careless of room to add some cheer." That afternoon Naoji announced that he would I felt as if I could weep. believe and obey anything that Naoji said. "Mother. She accepted it into a smile. and as yet there is no sign when he will inside. lying in bed indication that I am at last losing control of myself
. but her appetite Japan and got on the train the rice fieldsremains poor and she seldom speaks. Tonight her ears. The summer moment being sucked into the frenzied whirlpool moonlight flooded into the mosquito of Tokyo. Osaki. where the inn was and rushed out. "What kind of treatment do you call right? He's drinking gin." "Gin? You mean methyl alcohol?" "But I'm sure that Mother would hate wearing a "No. however. You probably sleep brighter electric lights in the diningat night with your mouth open. changed to a business suit and set off with 2. Put like a little girl. as Naoji had directed. apples. That "I hear your tongue hurts you. Mother was apparently resolved to swallowing and went away. have to go to Tokyo to see his friends.000 thumping loudly through the house. room-size mosquito net was Almost ten days have gone by since his spread open. but just the mask. Turn out the keeping Naoji so long. Naoji's bedding in the middle. Please finish the dinner. Mother merely smiled feebly." same . and an omelette. "He must have given up without a word and meekly tied the strings around opium. . The yen from Mother. She has told me that the medicine you tell Mother something about the is very effective and that wearing the mask South Seas?" greatly relieves the pain in her tongue. "Why don't waits for Naoji." Her voice was earnest. She looked as she lay there pathetically we'll all three sleep in this room. . and took it to Mother. it's not methyl. let alone a mask. folded it into a Mother twisted her mouth a little mask. You should wear a gauze mask." "Yes. and the three of us crept departure. That's all. When I returned to truth. . Every day Mother wears her mask and Lying there I asked him. I will. "No." He got me to tell him the distance. "It's called the aesthetic treatment. return. "Excuse me." He spoke as if was that. put gauze in Rivanol solution and put it inside a her head in at the kitchen door and mask." himself with that novelist Uehara and is at this I turned out the light. I asked. looked out at the sea in to deal with her. "He's drinking After breakfast I soaked some gauze in Rivanol at Osaki's place. Nothing at feeling. such lines the bitterer my life seems. that Mother is not telling the all. I reported to Mother. I can't sleep." Mother dislikes putting anything on her face. I waited for hours for his he had noticed for the first time that Mother was return.
you're all right-be of portent of a hell unparalleled. that wisteria clusters at Ushijima attain In my sleep. limbs. It is not children — lapses I would never have the love for living human beings. intimidated. Flawless construction. Nakai to help me move in Naoji's wardrobe and bookcases. to be read aloud and bookcases in place. to see my friend's happy face! A sensation of burning to death. and the wisteria of Kumano I want money. Logic. The room call it running commentary on a film?) I claim I was so cluttered that there was could write were I not ashamed. cry of dismay.when I burst out for no good reason wisteria blossom. I cannot blow the toy bugle of bad prose and bad pronounce even the simple words "it character to proclaim. Truth? Purity? All lies. So written on the cover. They say the I wonder if there is anyone who is not wisteria of Ushijima are a thousand depraved. I climbed the stairs to the philosophy. "Here is the greatest fool in hurts. something fundamentally cheap about such Aimlessly I picked up one of Naoji's awareness of genius. We decided to await his return to the reader's eyes — or else a distinguished from Tokyo before we put the wardrobe novel. My knitting fell as I stood up with a scampers off precipitously. inevitably. Sincerity? know that you are loved. pathos to bring tears Street. economics. making a botch of it. politics. unique in good health!" the history of man. I have heard Unless I have it . effort of human beings not to be human beings. believed myself capable of. five ----or six wooden crates stuffed with books and papers. And What is this affection which would make me excruciat-ing though it is. is the love of logic. With shaking maiden's smile is more precious than history. deliberately was suffering from narcotic poisoning. like going to a funeral. this (shall I where he would like them. . It is the five days ago Mother and I settled this. The a novel with deference. I felt at an utter loss The courageous testimony of Dr. There's scarcely space enough to turn around. not knowing sonorously with the deference due it. and I asked Mr. . "That's his bad habit. Order? Lies. the room in our old house in Nishikata proper leavening of humor." Do not try to shrug off this Japan! Compared to me. In that case it had best be words "Moonflower Journal" were done in formal clothes. a natural death! a maximum length of nine feet. Oh. The notebook long as it does not seem as affected as a good seems to have been kept while Naoji work! I will write my novel clumsily. and various other objectsI can swear even before Goethe that I am a in short. roses or mention the fact I haven't any Logic. what a pity!" You do not Ideals? Lies. Faust that a what to do with myself. years old. date from cen-turies ago. and those at Kumano of over five feet. religion. Money and women. Principles? Lies. A wearisome thought. This is to be Naoji's room. Philosophy? Lies. It is alive. everything that had been in his superbly gifted writer. My ----heart dances only in those clusters of
. bottomless! Friend! You who relate with a smug face. with a report on the activities of the That too is somebody's child. foreign-style room on the second floor. Four or Learning is another name for vanity. just to see a smile of genuine pleasure on my friend's face — to fall on ----my bottom and patter off scratching my head. perfect of its kind. and all the other branches of learning. law. education. Only a madman would read notebooks from an open crate. .
"I must started the rumor that I was precocious. Humanity? Don't be silly. The books on my shelves were. "Die!" Paltry. "Wait!" I cried. holding him back. The clerk. I asked. . be far more than I deserve. when ----she twisted away her body. I my own pocket money. in the gesture was own hand. It is desperate need of money. A hand in plaster. take it away. A celluloid top almost a foot in look to be respected. A large map of the suburbs of I want to spend my time with people who don't Paris. pure white. the furniture doesn't belong to go and die. When I pretended to be precocious. prudent hypocrites! "Very well!" I said with animation. I would far prefer to be told simply to After all. What him had any value as a pledge. It was not and ushered him to my room. with scarcely a glance at But rather than the patronizing "But being the room. The clerk valued it at fifty ----sen. rumor had it 1 was an idler. high-flown words. I When I pretended I couldn't write a novel." But not a one know. with whorl"Die!" Just to be vouchsafed that word would less finger tips and unmarked palms. beholder was stabbed with pain. no thanks. with a Today I surreptitiously introduced a few exceptions. Justice? That's not where you'll find the so"just take the things I have bought with called class struggle. A hand like a There aren't any decent people in our class dahlia blossom. decadent is the only way to survive!" of some who "Why don't you forget the whole idea? criticize me. But such good people won't diameter. a pure white hand. braggarts. This was the It's no use cheating. delicate hand. I had rather die by my stop her breath. implicit the moment when Venus' full nakedness was seen by a man. When I acted like a liar. this was only a piece of bric-a-brac. five yen. which one can write letters finer than threads. Idiots. flushed all over with the prickling warmth of her People always make a serious face when they shock. had the effrontery to say. When I be leaving now. mad mounted on a stand. It is a killing. expressed. right hand of Venus. pawn? If there is. But if you looked dogs. so pitifully that even the The war.I have run up a debt of close to a an immense stack of books for which he gave me thousand yen with the pharmacist." never say. The seriousness of our leaders these the tragedy of her nudity." no laugh-ing matter. meaning has it unless there is a verdict of "Die!" Item. It's straightforward. they
. I am in That is approximately my effective strength. the whirlwind of her shame. It is knocking down your fellow-men for the of all the odds and ends I piled before sake of your own happiness. A special pen-point with want to spend their time with me. either. Items. All things bought by me under ----the impression that they were great bargains. and tell a lie. penny-pinchers. people finally managed to load him down with said I couldn't write. piss from at it carefully you could tell how this above the clouds. and clerk from the pawnshop into the house at that I had bought them second-hand. . the To die by being sucked into an act of shame intense enough to make Venus desperation . "Is anything here valuable enough to To settle a debt of a thousand yen-five yen." acted like an idler. cheap paper-bound editions. specters. Japan's war is an act of desperation. days! Pooh! Unfortunately. surprising that they fetched so little. people The clerk laughed and said. But people almost you.
pabinal. narcopon. ----I am not exaggerating. am detested by them. a man's branch. I feel as if I will die of shame. will die by way of apology to Mama. please forgive me. they started the rumor that I was faking suffering." etc. Absolutely not. Test of wits. more. (New Year's Poem) My sister!" The years! Still quite blind -----
"Mama." Please answer. Every day. ." I am moaning to myself in the expectation of Mama's goodness is unsurpassed. morning in spring as the sun shone on a branch of plum where two or three ----blossoms had opened. When I acted like a rich The little stork-chicks man. Are growing up. But when I in-advertently groaned because ----I was really in pain. humiliations of every sort. Just this once. scold me please!" A letter requesting a loan: "What for?" "Your answer." "I have my good points. -----
There is the story of how on a Solemnity= feeling of idiocy. a young student of Heidelberg was dangling from the Anyway. they started the rumor I was rich. I beg it of you. you can be sure of one thing. night and day I tremble all over. I I am not putting on an act. atromol. Do not make me eat dirt. "They say I'm a weakling. dead. I wait for your answer. a man — to go on living without thinking "I am one of the elite. pantopon. ----Late at night I toss in my bed. "Do they? A weakling . Morphine. panopin. When I feigned indifference.called me a liar. at the thought that I was sure to end up by killing myself. . philipon. I detest people. atropin. Do not humiliate me. . The world is out of joint. got to fake just to stay alive. Please forgive me. ----Doesn't that mean in effect that I have no choice but suicide? In spite of my suffering. I cried aloud and burst into tears. I don't And in such a way that it will be good tidings think I need scold you about that any for me. every day. they Ah! how they fatten! classed me as the indifferent type. --------What is self-esteem? Self-esteem! It is impossible for a human being — no. I can hear a smothered laugh from the walls. Whenever I think of her. I want to cry.
I really mean it. I shut the mountains to recuperate. necklaces." followed by an oath so about paying the pharmacist and heart-rending that it made me want to turn my frequently importuned me for money. After talking the matter answered. One day. girl about six years old. but then. I days. I swear it to God. but she seems a sweet. disagreeable man. I was so different that no the telephone. and looking me. and the whole thing gradually assumed the of being an evil man." anguish and shame that I can't bear to If you were to compare what I was like then to meet you or even to talk to you over what I am like now-no. returning actually like that at all. I sent back the car and walked need to worry about sending me the by myself to Mr. I have the feeling that my divorce drug taking seems to have turned into a kind of was settled from the moment I was poisoning and grown steadily more serious. Usually there's just his wife and a little come with me from my mother's house. "but he's seldom at home over with my maid Oseki. Please keep it a secret from Mama. but 1 would entirely free about money. Uehara's. that even if Naoji had not been style of the letters he sent imploring me for addicted to drugs the divorce would money took on an anguished tone which was all have occurred sooner or later for some but a shriek. "I feel such money to a lady like her. Somehow I intend to before seen. but he is not proportions of a nightmare. adding. pretty. at least sum of money after another being extorted from by name. Besides. He was dressed in a Japanese immediately by telephone when the costume which made him look old and young at money arrives." Oseki my husband. Naoji was in difficulties to give up drugs now. Uehara?" my brother money I had received from "He's a short. His wife is not particularly I decided to sell my bracelets. followed his directions and had Oseki take the Six years have already passed since money secretly to Mr. and send down on the garden smoky with white the money to Mr. Naoji had sent You don't have to worry about entrusting your me a letter concluding. Please believe window. I may go afterward to our villa in the Having read that much. I will rations. led to my divorce. I realized perfectly well had just been married and could not be that he might be lying again. I walked to the drugs completely. false. The day "Moonflower Journal" and returned it to I pay back my whole debt I intend to give up the wooden crate. I face away from the paper. as always. I remembered the events of those That is more or less what was in the letter." His voice was slightly nasal.him. and he pay back the pharmacist all that I owe clipped his words. I have arranged Mr. I began to be terribly worried what with one whom I'm sure you must know. The born. dark. money at his address. I shouldn't say He didn't go to the villa to recuperate. at least. same. No. Mr. so please do it that way. I nevertheless send Oseki out to sell a piece of felt strongly that it was most improper jewelry and to take the money to Mr." rain. his that. Naoji's drug addiction eventually the promise in Naoji's letter was. All the the address] of the novelist Uehara Jiro. and dresses. Each time I read his words "I promise other cause. who had when I call. I received a strange first I want to keep my addiction from impression as if from a rare beast that I had never Mama. Uehara has the reputation me. cure myself before she learns of it. Uehara. Instead. Uehara's apartment. intelligent person. for me to slip furtively into the hands of "What sort of man is Mr. He seemed to have mistaken
. If I "My wife has gone with the child to collect the get the money from you this time. and there is no from the theatre. Uehara was alone in his room reading a with Uehara to let me know newspaper. Uehara's apartment. threw it open. Please send the money comparison is possible — I had my head in the with Oseki to the apartment [he gave clouds and was always very easy-going. the same time.
I drank two bag and told Mr. Uehara drank his sake from a a little money with me. The man's body flopped about as if he through me. glassfuls but did not feel anything. but all the same. "In that case. We entered the basement of a Let's go." An early winter's evening. A cold shiver went shoulders. Four "It doesn't make any difference. How does that suit He hailed a taxi for me. Mr. Uehara walked in Mr. "Then perhaps your brother won't be able as if against the wind. then laughed. your brother. Uehara for the first time gave a genuine silence. that isn't true. but get a taxi for you. do you?" building behind the Tokyo Theatre. about that they're surprisingly When I stepped outside. "With that much you have enough to drink at Mr. half running. you know. I followed behind to become an alcoholic either. "I once saw an alcoholic. ." that I screamed. a long time ago. and we separated you?" without saying anything. Waitress! The bill. noticed a friend of our chauffeur's with One day." He without uttering a word. Uehara man out of the car and slung him over his barked a laugh." I looked inside my and offered me some. I was so surprised head to say. I've had enough." sandals. I felt no of alcohol. instead of the usual little cup. "I have a lover. The driver told me the "I know. . Don't be silly. still two or three more places. The wind "No.me for a friend of his wife's. I don't know why. This was the spoke with a scowl. when I was feeling depressed after a a hideously red face asleep in the car quarrel with my husband. It was fascinating. I've seen a real alcoholic. would be a good idea for him to take up drinking. Mr. I suddenly took it in my and snoring loudly. "And so are you. the wind from the river indulgent. an alcoholic. . me. and all the while he kept "Shall we go out?" Scarcely had he mumbling something. I was about I felt. It's Hosoda." or five groups of customers were sitting "To tell the truth. He dragged the him that I was Naoji's sister. I have Mr. "Is it very expensive? If it isn't too much. as I was tossed in the decrepit old taxi. I'll "Liquor would be better. this place is too crowded for around tables in a long narrow room. good thing if he switched to some kind I took his kiss with my lips tightly shut. Uehara. That was the first time I uttered these words than he threw on a ever saw an alcoholic. but I felt quite at else?" home and rather happy. from myself. Uehara how much money I had. but at least it him. Uehara clattered up the stairs. was icy. I was once a dope addict special attraction for him. and dashed out ahead of me "Oh. with a strangely transparent feeling. When I told man was a hopeless alcoholic." tumbler. but followed. "I mean. stepped into a new pair of "I'm also an alcoholic. You had better go back. but not the same kind. I think I'll make an alcoholic felt wonderful against my cheek. You don't want to be late. hadn't any bones. and I know that moment on my "secret" came into being. first time in my life that I had ever "Would you like to go drinking somewhere come to such a place. Mr. who was one step ahead of me. and I slowly Alcohol is the same sort of thing. isn't it? Can't you possibly
. of your brother. Mr. It would be a turned around suddenly and gave me a quick kiss. you take care of the bill." quietly drinking." still . "No." cloak." He asked them to bring another glass "There may not be enough. his right shoulder slightly raised smile. are you?" into the hallway. It felt as if it were blowing in and it's entirely different." We climbed up the dark stairs from the base"Excuse me?" ment. what a poor view people take of it." from the river. Uehara drank and smoked. as to set out on New Year's calls when I if the world had suddenly opened wide as the sea. He shook his head.
Naoji was switching to alcohol. figure. which made things terribly many years it may take. Yes. I don't know how words. obtained money from me." I sometime? I was simply amazed how cheap sake thought. Uehara and borrowed his novels from realize now that my husband and I were my brother. Hosoda. and I. but seemed very pleased all the same. so everyone misunderstood. and his face words made me feel depraved myself.give him up?" amount. And don't worry about paying the cut it you can't sew the material pharmacist. "I I never attempted to take back my can't think of anything to do." Naoji wrote in his notebook. And had planned. He's a unpleasantness between my husband delightful man. Perhaps that might my husband had come to an end. I was so wild about Mr. Perhaps by depravity he actually He mentioned a fantastically large meant tenderness. as Mr. His drinking every day must be only in the and I returned to my mother's house. being unable to confess the actual
. Uehara's. depraved. Uehara were to a man with taste like his. but we'll have to pay complicated. My relations with myself to real depravity. this matter would always amusing if the three of us went drinking together be brought up. "It's all over now. the he probably still has no idea what to do in what atmosphere grew increasingly chilly. Uehara. She covered her publicly say without any face with one hand and for a while sat motionless. I asked him uncle and even Mother somehow then seemed how much he still owed the pharmacist. I was so frightened that I shook all over. I praised Mr. told me. Uehara. which was close to three times what he I remained silent. "I've met your Mr. and would be filled with beauty if one were Naoji and I gossiped a great deal about him. and made Hosoda's pictures that I used to tell me read other works by Mr. That night. I did not even understand Naoji was astonished that I could understand him. make things easier for Naoji. and openly spoke of divorce. Although neither of us for Naoji. As long as you stick to sake. embarrassment that I loved Mr. Whenever there was any I said. Uehara. I asked Mother what to knew nothing of love or affection. One night my husband asked me if Uehara's place. too. The child was stillborn. Those that he would die. Even now his path is blocked. Later I learned that Naoji had lied. perhaps feeling a kind of "I wonder if there is anyone who is not responsibility for my divorce. I Addiction is perhaps a sickness of the spirit. way. That was why even the back a little each month. I took ill and was I wonder how it would be if I let go and yielded confined to my bed. and my decomposed with weeping.Presently she looked up and said with a smile. When I had read them. Don't you think it would be and myself. the child I was carrying was Hosoda's. Before I knew people I met that every day of one's life it I had begun to read his novels in earnest. Naoji. It will be arranged somehow. hope of death. Naoji the wife of such a man. became the object of my husband's Moonflowers. and that staggered off almost every night to drinking marriage was meaningless unless it parties at Mr. simple affection." little infant then sleeping within me Six years have gone by since then. Bit by bit. I can always foot material for a dress — once you have the bill. I told Naoji both very young. It was like buying the wrong is. bellowed depraved." together again. he rushed off to Mr. would do about the pharmacist's bill. Uehara. and you'd best throw Naoji seemed enchanted that I had met and the whole thing away and start afresh liked Mr. love was. I did not know what what a wonderful writer I thought Mr. who Without Naoji's knowledge. it must have been painful suspicions. as soon as he had on another piece of material.
His initials are M. But that is not what hurts far out in the suburbs from Tokyo). half covering my face with my right hand. as I stood been such a nuisance and caused you on the verge of tears.'s wife.mother. Naoji. And now I discuss with you. I am seized with the desire to rush to his house and die of love with him. so kind as to listen to my plain. and why I must escape from my present life. while I pursue my round of existence from day to day.C. And that this very fact might be are for Naoji to decide.) what permits me to go on living sends cold chills Today I am writing to ask you a favor — through my whole body. Mother is half an invalid and spends as much time in bed as up. (As a matter of fact. "I'm sleepy. am asking your advice. I am quite sure you know who you. but I hear that she is a very sweet and good
. like yourself has a wife and child." or even a positive crime. in a really down-to-earth a letter. It's nervous exhaustion. I am afraid because I can so clearly foresee my own life rotting away of itself." I must apologize that Naoji has again "You may be right. But I feel that I cannot go on living not a matter of like or dislike — we (my except by going to him. as not for Naoji but for myself. I heard you know. and once every couple of days he takes have since moved to your present address. I have no sense of realism. and it is nonsensical for me to offer an apology. but me. mu-mured. and as she drank some tea she said. I'm so terribly sleepy. I must therefore ask live as his mistress. Perhaps a year. is mentally very sick. I want to state with absolute point of view of the usual "Etiquette for clarity that I have been in love for some time with Young Women. While he is here from Naoji that your old place was destroyed during the war and that you he spends most of his time at the local drinking place. tone. impossible to bear. this what to do with myself. and myself) — cannot possibly go CHAPTER FOUR / LETTERS on living this way. I was hardly able to breathe and felt at a complete loss I couldn't make up my mind whether to write to him or what to do. If you have forgotten me.C. Then. A little after lunch the girl morning the words of Jesus — "wise as from the farmer's house down the road came in the rain with a load of rice on her back. It is younger than I. My present life is unendurable. and I can't possibly leave rots without falling. please try to remember. The matter I have to discuss may I want now to make an open declaration to my appear extremely dubious from the mother and to Naoji. Then. I have never met M. Yesterday I was in pain and feverish. we — cannot go on a certain man. but 1 — no. I I am Naoji's sister. I had thought of paying a visit whatever money we have from selling our clothes to your house (which seems to be very and goes off to Tokyo. I cannot help feeling that Naoji's affairs "romanticism" welled up within me." At this moment." I answered. I handed serpents and harmless as doves" — flashed into my head and in a sudden over to her the clothes I had promised. That is what I find her to go up to Tokyo. the person whom my brother Naoji it is. like a leaf that of late my mother's health has been rather poor. the words "realism" and such bother.C. even if it means violating the There is something I would like to whole code of young ladies' etiquette." "You're exhausted. The girl burst of courage I decided to write him sat facing me in the dining-room. Naoji. Whenever anything respects most in the whole world. and that I intend in the future to living as we have. M. "How much longer can you go on by selling your things?" ----"Six months. He also unadorned feelings and to give me the seems to have women friends more beautiful and benefit of your guidance. That is why I made up my mind to write you a letter. to be painful comes up.
I I pray for an answer. Mother love or passion." but I am sure D. it was an evening ask of you. and I am and act however it seems best to me. I don't deny this." I said playfully. I to some terribly complicated problem in would like you to know. but the "No.) even more dreadful. if M.C. It was not standing absent-mindedly by his gate. that if my only wish was for a patron I that there is a single point where the should not have chosen you especially. I can't say Arts. one of Uncle And has it already faded away? Wada's cronies.S." With that the situation. You might call me a selfwidower over sixty. that no one. I have strained my mental powers my purpose was merely to elicit money from you as if I were trying to think of the answer to save my life. Yes. explaining that he had lost his If it has. not my mother or Naoji or the rest of the world. I have recently been putting on a little consideration can make me refrain weight. sallow face suddenly turned a as time has gone by. I wonder what he really thinks of artists. I believe. if you'll excuse me for algebra. a member of the Academy of styled — what shall I say. feel. Whenever I think of her. This summer I read a novel (just one) by harmless as the dove. Once. However. if there is a way to carry it through to I tried to insert a maximum of cunning into every the congratulations of those around line of the letter. at rainbow have deepened and intensified which his peevish. Lawrence. I suppose that first thing I have ever had. I must erase my own wife some years ago. will approve of ----me. but the colors of the nodded slightly to him from the car window.C. spans the sky when it clears after a "He's in love with you. I think it is less that I am turning into a from appealing to M.person. I have a favor to neighborhood meetings. Mother. a neighbor of ours when we lived in Nishikata says he really can't endure me. and we met him occasionally at nothing more to say. and no P. make a direct reply to the artist in whatever way I
. when Mother and I passed in One day six years ago a faint pale our car in front of this artist's house. In short. willing to care for me. M. Never once have I brilliant red. I have Street. H. I imagine that you thought that me. I have no choice but to think things out myself No answer has come from you. lost it from sight. Mother!" shower soon fades away. Could you please ask him? in autumn as I recall. writing again. The rainbow that "I wonder if it can be love. The letter I sent the other day was The thought brings tears. though. he was rainbow formed in my breast. (My Chekhov. that my present life is To Mr. As a matter of fact. Uehara Jiro. Mother suggested that I rainbow. I wonder about you. He used to be lover. as if to herself. This is the underhanded and full of snares.C." seem to disappear that way. it's true. me. in my own eyes a dreadful woman. But unless I first erase my life. rainbow in a person's heart does not "He's a great man. until at last I have come to feel saying so. I have the whole thing may be unraveled. and I wonder you saw through every one of them. I seem the rainbow in my breast will not fade away. not long But what does my precious M. by way of a certain prince." Mother calmly answered. You may think of me? That's a disheartening even know the gentleman's name — he is a question. I would like to brute creature than that I have at last become fulfill my love "wise as the serpent and human. ago I had something like a proposal.C. this great artist came here to the self-styled wife-perhaps a "self-styled mountains in order to ask my hand. I wonder if he has thought of me as The artist sent a proposal for my hand to of a rainbow in the sky after a shower. and impression that quite a few rich old men would be suddenly I have become cheerful. Please ask It seems to be our family's custom to honor him.
I laughed. . doesn't it? you. And yet. after you are thirty. and dress that I sold." The artist suddenly spoke. . and asked to pay a brief call. I dashed off a note to the quite unlike an old man. this "You don't mind if I refuse?" I asked too would certainly be a reason to go on living. when she was you speak of." remember what my teacher. I looked outside. I remembered that when I somehow didn't seem possible. bathed in the have reached your house by now. It may seem very about to return to her country. I room. "I hope that you will with equanimity that a woman's life was over at reconsider. able to bring up my child." buy it?"
. I felt a impatience. but I can on the necklace. other hand make you very happy in a middle-aged woman. Artists. But no stretch of the imagination enabled me to "I didn't myself think it was a likely visualize myself in the artist's arms." warning.' I am what Nietzche you unhappiness. Love will bring thank you. I suppose you would like to inspiration to come into my work. "It doesn't matter for a days later he turned up without woman. but I can only answer. having no knowledge of my "But a woman like myself cannot think of answer because he had left before my marriage without love. That at least I can assure woman's life contains a woman's life. Perhaps I can't — how shall thirty. spiritual happiness.saw fit. but I just remembered To live with you might cause fresh The Cherry Orchard. then aged nineteen. A wretched. but just enough to be time even to imagine life after thirty. impertinent. I had lightly "Indeed?" he said with some assented." had read those words in the novel. "Doesn't it make any I sent my letter of refusal to the difference to you that I don't love you?" artist at his villa in the Japan Alps. "I was assailed by a melancholy I could not drive imagine that my letter of refusal must away. Two He answered seriously. but the most childish. "Something of the maiden's fragrance whatever their age. Without giving it very much He said this rather affected thing in a manner thought. great an artist could really be rejuvenated. I am fully grown. I said while pouring tea." I asked with a little smile. Thirty. . "You should never fall in love. but it bits of broken glass. an Englishwoman. "You spite. You can put house." I was taken aback at my own he was on his way to a hot spring in Izu words." into words what everyone has thought. glittered with the dazzling intensity of carefully considered your offer.' I want a child. even a middle-aged material way. his voice edged with The artist gave an odd smile. Next year letter reached him. "Excuse me. "I don't understand that happiness said to me. irresponsible pranks. and I thirty years. He wiped away the sharp nostalgia for those days when I could think perspiration. "I've heard a rumor that you are selling the are a very unusual woman. It was quite impossible for me at the want money too. Her words could only arouse in me a dumb Happiness does not interest me. He sent word that I will be thirty. I bluntly . Mother. A woman can be vague. let it be when described as 'a woman who wants to you are older. I noon glare." give birth to a child. seem to indulge in lingers with a woman until she is twenty-nine. If you must love. nothing is left about the body of the woman of Mother was not feeling well. match. 'No. I hope I don't speak too That is what I have come of late to understand. The thought occurred to effect that I had at present no intention me that if through my strength the work of so of remarrying. I wondered if the maiden fragrance of my I say it — give you what might be called body was fading away with each bracelet." At the sudden recollection of these myself re-ceived him in the Chinese words from a French novel I had read long ago. thinking them probably true. I do incredulity. The sea. I wonder if it's true.
approaches sixty. I think. he was quick to guess my Perhaps if I had met you long. and glasses. J
. in order to please your work." and I decided to be blunt. In my last letter. but when I distasteful that he quite lost his good was on the point of writing "lover. Later. but I have resigned myself to had never come to anything. and I should have been spared my of selling the house to a prince. I miss you. But please listen to the be of use. and after a few minutes more of meant what people generally do by the word small talk. I feel answer I shall have no grounds whatsoever even somehow as if that moment was vital for presumption and shall probably be doomed to enough to decide my fate. You are were an absolute monster. But that we should have be like an act of brute force. and I should hate been thinking of him in terms of myself for it. but it present sufferings. I do not myself Sea Gull. and what we did that night on the written about the "presumption of a middle-aged stairs from the basement has returned woman. like Nina in The advocate of common sense. I am willing to become your Lopakhin in The Cherry Orchard was so mistress. But during the me or dislike me? Or have you no feelings on the past six years. and I was the fact that I shall never be able to marry you. (I really can't bear the word. It only gave me the I believe that your work is the most precious most curious sensation of buoyancy. I borrowed some of your willing to accept our relationship. waste away the rest of my life alone. sometimes not. and that a man. And your wife would then also be my brother. I thing in the world to you. I confess I was not a The only problem is your answer. but I am convinced Sometimes I found them interesting. That I feel that our case is different. They say you be a Lopakhin. the remembrance of you has I must ask anyway. you are off the scowl and did not answer. he may be. this possibility I have felt so utterly In your novels you often describe love forlorn that I have sometimes yielded to adventures. but it has suddenly completely unlike other men. I believe that the novelists. I know this may novels from him and read them.He twisted his mouth in an angry lady" or anything of the kind. I have fog. If you think me a "literary good life consists in being able to do what I like. we might have It was true that there had been talk married." It now occurs to me that unless you to me with absolute vividness. That much I can that she is abandoned as soon as she ceases to warrant you. We drank sake together from they were talking about an ordinary mistress. Do you like very passionate reader. when meaning. I remember hearing my nurse At the time I knew nothing about you and the old man of Nishikata Street discussing except that you were my brother's this matter and concluding that a mistress was teacher. but say. But teacher. and you were a little bold." and in this letter. didn't like or dislike you — I had no becoming intimate with me may actually help feeling at all. "mistress. I wrote that I soaked into me like some all-pervasive was a "self-styled lover. from just when I can't subject? I am terrified at what you may reply. he left. and at unless I hear from you. seem an odd kind of sophistry. and people gossip about you as if you uncontrolled weeping. long ago. I am lost Perhaps. you and I were both still single. that there is nothing amiss with my reasoning. I am not dawned on me that you probably are actually an in love with an author. was. and that if you like me. whatever sort of man presumption of a middle-aged woman. will always return to his wife when he It is already six years since we met.) I gather What I ask of you now is not that that the usual mistress has a hard lot." I realized that I humor. and at that a rather peculiar one thing a woman should never become. I am not fascinated by understand common sense. didn't bother me. it may be love. Artist that he track. I want a child from you. surprised that the artist had even heard For me to attempt to push aside your wife would the rumor.
" nothing more has come of it. What are you my neckline was so pretty that I should try not to thinking about? I wonder if I did the hide it? Didn't you?" wrong thing in my last letter in writing "Yes. and she has seemed rather "What kind of man is Naoji's teacher?" better of late. you never let anybody go in a To Mr. Mother answered tranquilly. Your up-sweep nasty mixture of fog and rain is falling. If he wears a tag. you aren't. that he afternoon. If you know the answer. you're tenacious!" Mother was in very good spirits today. I shall not let my chattering with such relish when he was here? I brother get this sake. 1 ask your As we drank the steaming milk. I have no be drunk from a glass. I'm afraid it's a failure. no she said. Didn't you once tell me that but nothing has come." answer without even leaving the house. what's more. Please come here. "I have finished boiling the expression. Every night I drink a little from "Oh. "Tagged?" murmured Mother with a pleased Just then Mother's voice called from the look in her eyes. Perhaps you thought I sort. are we?" feelings are. "I'm disappointed. I shall like a good match. he did. Then. she commented. we talked advice. But it's quite impossible. I'm so glad you remembered. "No. But me." alleviated. M. That's why I wouldn't let him out recently been com-plaining about pain of my clutches. I can't go on. but it was interesting. I said. It is now three o'clock in the don't dislike artists and. matter what happens. as a matter of fact." drink it. the pain has been much on those ponderous airs of a man of character." The rain has stopped and a wind has "Considering the wayward type I am. please about the artist. sake really should would like to have talked about." Won't you come here? "No. I was character. He said that being with me made in her tongue. I shall go out now to get our seems to have a large income. "I don't really A few minutes ago I was standing on know. you're a naughty this letter in my pocket. Mother has "Yes." and I were laughing over it. Kazuko." put two empty rum bottles in a bag and Mother smiled. "That style is It rained again today. you know. made for women with thin hair. I don't "It's so cold today I've made the milk very hot. ----noticing that I had put my hair up yesterday for the first time. It isn't that I "aesthetic treatment" which Naoji dislike artists. like a kitten
." want to bear anyone else's child. If you were so sure that it was impossible. but I can't stand anyone who puts prescribed. and as I looked at the rain Naoji's. doesn't that make milk. I myself intend to can't imagine your motive. looks much too grand.want to give birth to your child. I felt a chill go through me. Just a little "That gentleman who came the other day must while ago. Please say clearly what your suited." him harmless? It sounds rather sweet. He seems to be tagged as a dissolute being blown and swirled about. There's a lot more I a glass. An invisible. "Kazuko. "He and I are not the least tell me. "That's an interesting dining-room. that I sprung up. it certainly looked ration of the best quality sake. I seem to remember something of the about that artist." trying to picture what your feelings are. Mother have praised you. but thanks to the his inspiration-no. You know." mentioned his proposal in order to "I never forget a syllable of praise addressed to arouse your competitive spirit. and in ten child. but what can you expect from a teacher of the porch. minutes I shall be on my way to the why in the world did you lead him on that way by village down the hill. discretion. All that is missing is a little Every day I have waited for your golden tiara.conversation.C.
See the faint lines that have etched wouldn't matter much if you came with themselves on both sides of my mouth. but even when most persuaded. You don't approve? Too fast. and that I can't put them out by my unaided efforts. I am sure were by yourself. more. there is no other way for me to live. pictures there. Any time at all will suit to become dissolute myself. considering who you what I am saying now would not be anything are. I would like come here just this once. I forget to turn off the light. Everyone has called I felt happy." experience of being disliked. I suppose. I will climb sometimes shudder at the thought that I may be the dark stairs with a little candle in my attempting to do an extraordinarily foolish thing. Then you will understand acting on some whim of yours. A dissolute will be happy in your work. I have never had the "I wonder.with a bell around its neck. if we can only meet. I know that I shall be stories only make me love you all the saved. my ambition is to amies. when Naoji is away in that ray face will express my feeling to you more Tokyo. You are the most notorious example in Please see me again and then. character without a tag is what people have often told me that to be with me is to frightens me. I would not be suffering this always been fond of artists. If we you are hated and often attacked. he is sure to clearly than any words. That rainbow is not of the refined beauty will be that. I no sky. that. I am will probably stay in the foreign. Behold Naoji. happy? If you don't. that you must have all kinds of exceptional. of the light of fireflies or of the stars. but still. and I could probably forget you gradually. When you are living with me. if you dislike Japan of a tagged dissolute. Ever since I was small. you are dirty and repulsive. Were these the days of The Tale of Genji. I want to meet be best if you suddenly dropped in. monopolize you. and you will be taken In my first letter I wrote of a rainbow in my off to Osaki's place to drink. You his drugs run out can be as painful as this. If it were so My family for generations has faint and faraway. it is up to you to extinguish them. Please believe me. I beg you. himself lived for years in our old family The rainbow in my breast is a bridge of flames. but there's something unnatural constant attendance. especially making plans with due self-possession. that it is not room on the second floor. it was as me a "nice girl. I can't help thinking child. So I am sure Mother will Not even the craving of a narcotics addict when be very pleased to have you come. hand. Please those who wear their tags. smoke and was being drawn up into the It would be so good if we could meet. Such meet. but now you will gradually come become your mistress and the mother of your to love only me. it would be best if it the wrinkles of the malheur du siècle. Korin way. but today — oh. suppose! However. It house in Kyoto and painted beautiful is a sensation so strong that it chars my breast." That's why I am so sure that you though my body had dissolved into could never dislike me. style certain that I am not mistaken." forget one's troubles. me. Please come here. I And I often wonder if I am not going mad. I am sure. It would her. and I couldn't possibly leave and peculiar about asking him. It everything. so happy. Do you understand? Why I was so longer need an answer from you or anything else. and that breast. The flames in my breast were Naoji has told me that many people say lighted by you. as if you just once. If Naoji is here. sometimes even I am capable of I like dissolute people. I feel as if me. I will wait here for you and not go anywhere. I'll hit you! I want to meet you. say so plainly. I suppose that the simplest Won't you come here sometime? I thing would be for me to go to your house in would ask Naoji to bring you back with Tokyo. Please do not wicked of me. you If there is anyone who would laugh at letters
. but I am Mother's nurse and servant in him.
he is a man who derides a is too painful. Won't you shove aside the morality that blocks Those who would deride me are so you? many furled sails.) nonsensical for some out-sider who has never suffered the least of what I have been going through to presume to make judgments while slackly drooping CHAPTER FIVE / THE LADY his ugly sails. no answer respects are all liars and fakes. footsteps of happiness. and a hundred other the man I loved. and I put into the acted on the basis of any doctrine or three letters all that was in my heart. Naoji replied that he was much the That is the only cross on which I wish to same as usual-that he spent every night in be crucified. that I was born. that I am alive. I have no desire for others to take it on themselves to This summer I sent three letters to him. and that he was the object of the more dangerous for being without tags? scorn and loathing of all decent citizens. Do you understand? Moreover. but whom the world considers good and although I waited a very long time. abandoned at dusk in an autumnal wasteland for the sound in the corridor of the where no answering sound would ever come. that his literary productions people criticize me. My matter. nothing else I could possibly do. I am without reply came. As I listened to Naoji's words. I can throw in their consisted exclusively of works of an increasingly teeth my challenge: Are you not all the immoral nature. mocks at a woman's life. I wait in the suffocating foul air of the harbor. not even once. I was assailed by a cent is just living in wait-ing.like these. trust the world. from morning to night. Though ten thousand drunken carousals. To M. Empty. I posted philosophy. as if I had been though my breasts are being crushed. I wait in sensation of desolation more intense than momentary expectation. blowing. All I want to say is that I await or not they could unearth someone with capital to your visit. and the question now was whether brother. but these emotions all experienced as the feeling that the actual world together occupy a bare one per cent of was an unfamiliar organism utterly unlike the our time.C. (These are not the initials of My A nuisance of a woman. he universal belief that it is best not to be born. But in this Chekhov. I wish I could be glad I want to hoist my sails in the open sea. my odor had seeped into the atmosphere around anger. They can do nothing. But no analyze my thoughts. It is Chi1d. feeling as anything I had previously known. I have never. life
. It was not so much shame that I emotions. My only ally is the I casually inquired of my brother Naoji how that tagged dissolute. Naoji persuaded two or these rational-seeming arguments. The tagged dissolute. sorrow. The remaining ninety-nine per world of my imagination. Furled sails are always dirty. I am choking Thus every day. have gone rather too far in offering you As a preliminary step. a suggestion which Naoji eagerly accepted. in despair for something. that there are even though a tempest may be people and a world. That lend the project. them with the feeling of one who leaps from a I am convinced that those people promontory into the raging billows of the sea. I want to see you again. he had urged Naoji to start a publishing There is no reason in love. I three novelists besides that person to appoint him feel as if I am merely parroting my as their agent. it is I who suffer the most. became increasingly evident that not a particle of To wait. and I house. Oh. the reality that confirms the woman's efforts to go on living. it seemed at the time that there was thoughts. I am not in love with an author. man was. it is all. I do not came. In our lives we know joy.
That's where the trouble lies. I can not wait any longer. there is no cause for alarm. Alone and degrees. you'll be little after noon in his formal clothes. As long and offered them to me. I know what it is! I know what it is!" temperature dropped to normal and her Again turning toward me." was unexpected turn." was more to her cough than a mere "I wonder. doctor said. "They say that nothing to excite alarm. The weather this summer has usual he spent an interminable time in been so unseasonal. takes the medicine which I shall prescribe." sobbing." I thought. but her temperature fluctuated between and see Mr. Her cough was to go up to Tokyo." But somehow it didn't seem the news that his stomach indisposition had at just a cough. "and here is a gift After the doctor had made his departure. The fever will probably weakening of late. and to be on the safe side length passed." Mother murmured in between Mother's health. and my ship has put forth from at this juncture the doctor took to bed with an the harbor. I wonder. numbed by the smiles to ask. My sails have been 99 in the morning and 102 degrees at night. he intoned. All the same. "I have cough had much abated. expression of rapt concentration. I hate summer flowers too. most people have that. clutching at a straw." He took three pears from a exclaimed. As better in no time. describing her sudden no need for anxiety. alone in the wasteland as He answered gravely. smiled. If your mother people who like summer flowers die in the
. I upset stomach. Suddenly he The next morning Mother's cried. ausculation and percussion. "How about injections?" night dews. terrible cough. "Tomorrow I'll be Some days later the village doctor called with better. and My shoulders and chest were fiercely if your mother remains quiet. We have here to do with a cold. "Ah. I for you. be necessary. but if your mother previous night. A seepage has went to the doctor and asked him to developed in the left lung. there is examine Mother. adding." "disappointed love"? I asked myself if I I found him curiously comic but controlled my were doomed to die. but like a drowning man cold. I wrote a postcard to "It must be because it was so chilly my Uncle Wada informing him of the change in today. only transmitted my words to the doctor. who prepare for the journey to Tokyo. It had already temperature. He appeared a as you can just keep your spirits up. and I was choked by a dry rid of it shortly. I think we can get shaken. "There is Mother. Is that. I decided to have the village doctor pay He examined Mother's chest with an a call the following day." turning to me with the words.however often I called. "They will probably not the sun dropped completely from sight. better. spasms of coughing. she will what is meant by the pat phrase recover. Nevertheless. I went to his house for some must go where I am going. her fever of the continue for the time being. Just lifted. and my belief that there remains quiet. But even after a week had passed Mother's There is nothing left for me now but temperature did not disappear. in an excess of depression. at last I hate the summer." the could from his diagnosis. his reply. I was given a liquid medicine and a One night she was racked by a powder. Mother? Just a little shelf in the corner of his reception room seepage — why. her eyes shut. "Isn't that a relief. Uehara. When I took her Naoji as usual was off in Tokyo. I took whatever comfort I "I shall be calling presently. I understood the cause of the fever. it was already 102 been more than ten days since he left. "It's an to have Mother's condition take an ordinary cold and should cause no anxiety. cost what it may. These were medicine and took the occasion to describe my thoughts as I began secretly to Mother's discouraging condition to the nurse.
summer, and I was expecting to die this dangling from his shoulders like a necklace, summer, perhaps, but now that Naoji slouched in a wicker chair. has come home I have held on until "Fellows like myself go into some roadside joint autumn." to take a stand-up lunch of noodles. You never get It was painful for me to realize that anything good or — for that matter — really bad," Naoji, even such as he was, had he was saying as I entered, and this, I suppose, become the mainstay of Mother's was typical of their conversation. Mother was pleasure in life. following his words with an unconstrained "Well, then, since summer has expression. passed, that means we're over the "It wasn't anything after all!" I exclaimed to hump of your danger period, doesn't it? myself with a sigh of relief. Suddenly courage Mother, the bush clover is in bloom in welled up in me and I asked, "How is she? The the garden. And valerian, burnet, village doctor said there was a seepage in her left bellflowers, timothy — the whole lung. Do you think so too?" garden reeks of autumn. I am sure that The doctor replied offhandedly, "What's all once it's October your temperature will that? She's perfectly all right!" go down." "Oh, I'm so relieved, aren't you, Mother?" I I am praying that it will. What a relief spoke to her, smiling from my heart. "He says it will be when the sticky, lingering you're all right." September heat has passed! Then, Dr. Miyake at this point rose from his chair and when the chrysanthemums are in walked into the Chinese room. He obviously had bloom and one day of bright Indian something to disclose to me. I tiptoed out of the summer succeeds another, Mother's room behind him. fever will surely disappear. She will He stopped when he reached the wall hanging grow strong, and I will be able to see and said, "I hear a funny sound." him. Perhaps my plans will come to "It isn't a seepage?" magnificent flowering like some "No." gigantic chrysanthemum. Oh, if only it "Bronchitis?" I was already in tears as I asked. were already October, and Mother's "No." fever were gone! T.B. I didn't want to think of it. I was sure that About a week after I wrote my uncle, with my strength I could cure pneumonia or a he arranged for an old doctor named seepage or bronchitis. But tuberculosis — perhaps Miyake, who had once served as a court it was already too late. I felt as if my legs were physician, to come from Tokyo to crumbling under me. examine Mother. "Is the sound very bad, that funny sound you Dr. Miyake had been an hear?" I was sobbing helplessly. acquaintance of my father's, and "Right and left both — the whole works!" Mother looked delighted to see him. His "But Mother's still healthy! She enjoys her rough manners and coarse speech, for meals so!" which he had long been famous, also "It can't be helped." apparently endeared him to Mother. "That's not true. It can't be. If she eats lots of They had not got around to a formal butter, eggs, and milk, she'll recover, won't she? examination, and the two of them were As long as she keeps up her resistance, the fever diverting themselves instead with an will go down, won't it?" uninhibited bout of gossip. I went to the "She should eat a lot of whatever she likes." kitchen to make some pudding, and by "Isn't that what I said? Every day she eats five the time it was ready to be served the tomatoes alone." examination had already been "Tomatoes are good." concluded. The doctor, his ausculator "Then it's all right? She'll get better?"
"This sickness may prove fatal. It's heart I had blotted out Dr. Miyake's diagnosis. best that you should know it." My mind faded off into a reverie on how much This was the first time in my life that better it would be when it was October and the I had become aware of the existence of chrysanthemums were in bloom. Before I knew it I the wall of despair built of all the many had dozed off and was standing in a landscape things in the world before which human which occasionally comes to me in dreams, strength is helpless. although I have never actually seen it. I was "Two years? Three years?" I beside a lake in the forest o long familiar to me, whispered, trembling. and the sight of that landscape came with a thrill "I can't say. In any case, nothing can of recognition. I was walking next to a boy in be done about it." Japanese clothes, silently, with no sound of Dr. Miyake departed, mumbling footsteps. The whole landscape seemed veiled in something about reservations for that a kind of green fog. A delicate white bridge lay day at Nagaoka Hot Spring. I saw him submerged at the bottom of the lake. as far as the gate. Dazedly I walked The boy spoke. "The bridge has sunk! We can't back to Mother's bed. I forced a smile, go anywhere today. Let's stop at the hotel here. as much as to say that nothing was I'm sure there must be an empty room." wrong, but Mother asked, "What did the There was a hotel on the edge of the lake. Its doctor tell you?" stone walls dripped with the green fog. On a stone "He says that everything will be all gate the words "Hotel Switzerland" were carved in right if your temperature only goes gilt letters. As I read the letters SWI, I suddenly down." thought of Mother. I wondered uneasily how she "What about my chest?" was, whether she, too, were staying at this hotel. I "Apparently it's nothing serious. It's passed with the young man through the gate into like when you were sick before. I'm sure the front garden. Huge red flowers like of that. Just as soon as the weather hydrangeas were blooming with a burning turns a bit cooler, you'll quickly get intensity in the foggy garden. When I was a child, back your strength." the bedcovers had a pattern of crimson I tried to believe my own lies. I tried hydrangeas which had always made me feel to forget the terrifying word "fatal." I peculiarly unhappy. But, I thought now, there couldn't believe it was the truth. I had really are such things as red hydrangeas. the feeling that were Mother to die, my "You aren't cold?" own flesh would melt away with her. "No. Just a little. My ears are wet with the fog, From now on, I thought, I will forget and the insides are cold." I laughed and asked everything else except preparing all him, "I wonder what has happened to Mother?" kinds of delicious things for Mother. The boy answered with a smile at once Fish, soup, liver, broth, tomatoes, eggs, heartbreakingly sad and full of compassion, "She milk, salad — I will sell everything I own is in her grave." to buy food for Mother. A cry escaped my lips. That was it. Mother was I went to the Chinese room and no longer with us. And hadn't a funeral already dragged the reclining chair out to a taken place? At this realization of Mother's death, spot on the veranda from where I could my body shook with an indescribable loneliness see Mother. She did not look the least and my eyes opened. like a sick person. Her eyes were It was already dusk on the veranda. It was beautifully clear and her complexion raining. A green-colored desolation lingered over fresh. Her fever only comes in the everything, just as in the dream. afternoon. "Mother?" I called. "How well Mother looks!" I thought. She answered in a calm voice. "What are you "I am sure she must be all right." In my doing there?"
I leaped up with joy and rushed to The porch blinds, which I had rolled up a couple of her side. "I was sleeping." days earlier, clattered in the wind. I sat in the "I wondered what you were doing. room next to Mother's, reading with a strange That was a long nap, wasn't it?" She agitation Rosa Luxemburg's Introduction to seemed amused with me. Economics. I had borrowed this book from Naoji's I was so overjoyed at Mother's room (without his permission, naturally) along charm, at her being alive, that my eyes with the Selected Works of Lenin and Kautsky's filled with tears of gratitude. Social Revolution. I had left them on my desk. One "And what are my lady's commands morning, when Mother passed beside my desk on for dinner this evening?" I asked rather her way to the bath, she happened to notice the archly. three volumes. She picked them up one after "Please don't bother. I don't need another, examined the contents, and then, with a anything. Today my temperature went little sigh, returned them softly to the desk. She up to 103 degrees." glanced at me sorrowfully as she did so. A From happiness I was suddenly profound grief filled her look, but it was by no plunged into blank despair. At a loss means one of rejection or antipathy. Mother's what to do, I let my glance wander chosen reading matter is Hugo, Dumas pere et vacantly around the dimly lit room. I fils, Musset, and Daudet, but I know that even wanted to die. such books of sweet romances are permeated "Why should that be, I wonder. 103 with the smell of revolution. degrees!" People like Mother who possess a Heaven"It's nothing. It is only just the given education — the words are peculiar I know moments before the fever breaks out — may perhaps be able to welcome a revolution that I don't like. My head hurts a little, I in a surprisingly matter-of-fact way, as a quite feel a chill, and then the fever comes." natural occurrence. Even I found some things Outside it was dark now. The rain rather objectionable when I read Rosa had stopped, but a wind was blowing. I Luxemburg's book, but, given the sort of person I switched on the lights and was about to am, the experience on the whole was one of go to the dining-room when Mother profound interest. The subject matter of her book called out, "The light hurts my eyes. is generally considered to be economics, but if it Please leave it off." is read as economics, it is boring beyond belief. It "But you won't like lying in the dark con-tains nothing but exceedingly obvious that way, will you?" I asked, still platitudes. It may be, of course, that I have no hesitating by the switch. understanding of economics. Be that as it may, "It doesn't matter. When I sleep my the subject holds not the slightest interest for me. eyes are shut. I don't feel the least bit A science which is postulated on the assumption lonely in the dark. It's the glare that I that human beings are avaricious and will remain dislike so. Let's not put the lights on in avaricious through all eternity is utterly devoid of this room from now on." point (whether in problems of distribution or any Her words filled me with foreboding. other aspect) to a person who is not avaricious. Without a word I switched out the lights And yet as I read this book, I felt a strange in Mother's room. I turned on a lamp in excitement for quite another reason — the sheer the next room and, feeling un-bearably courage the author demonstrated in tearing apart depressed, hurried to the kitchen. As I without any hesitation all manner of conventional sat there, eating canned salmon and ideas. However much I may oppose morality, I am cold rice, heavy tears fell from my eyes. powerless to prevent the image floating before With nightfall the wind began to my eyes of the wife of the man I love, coolly and blow harder and developed by about quickly hurrying back to his house. Then my nine into a real gale with pelting rain. thoughts turn destructive. Destruction is tragic
This I red beret became her." in her smiling face. Haven't we anything to drink in the Sarashina Diary and decided that it was house? The best thing when you're in such a state no use talking to me. It's impossible to talk and I have not even known love. "Have you read it?" Since the defeat. I must start a revolution. if this should be our something in her attitude. The door slid open suddenly and Mother poked "I hated the color of the jacket. Then We stood for a while in silence you'll be able to sleep soundly. but it didn't bring any I felt ashamed of myself and sudden change to bright autumn weather. walked away. building anew. most pleasurable things in the world. Revolution and love are in fact the Cathedral. open her mouth. however. bantering tone. a book and loathsome of human activities. war. forever farewell." wiser heads of the world have always described My friend. even during the war. "I am not afraid of you. reputed to look like the Mona Lisa's. is to have a drink before you go to bed. Wasn't it because I looked at the clock on my desk. once one has destroyed. --------Twelve years have passed and I have yet to It was a winter twelve years ago. I'm not the least bit sleepy. Her fobbed off on us their sour grapes of a lie. best. I'm sure. "You're still up. The dream of whispered an apology. I haven't. bridge." She murmured and then quickly recited the verses of Byron in the ----original English." older and wiser heads and have come to feel that It was on a bridge from which you the opposite of whatever they say is the real truth could see the Tokyo Russian Orthodox about life. Byron. but in the passion of love I must That was the last time I saw her. "You're just like that spineless girl in What in the world have I been doing all this time? the Sarashina Diary who never can I have never felt myself drawn toward revolution." that she compared me to the girl in the "Oh. Marxism. I began to walk toward the destroying.' breadth removed from dissoluteness. but there was an indefinable "'Farewell. but we were gave tragically her undivided love to in a different school. so saying. We used to go destroy. She gave me a light embrace. a coquetry just a hair's parting forever." She spoke sadly. saw my friend still standing motionless on the the day of perfecting may never come. She was a want to believe implicitly: Man was born for love beautiful girl with a face which was and revolution. perfecting. Aren't you "You are strange. we were convinced of it.
. progress a step beyond the Sarashina Diary stage.and piteous and beautiful. Rosa to the same foreign teacher's house. It was you've become afraid of me?" midnight. Before the by Lenin. station." She spoke in a looking down at the wintry river. staring at me. I couldn't "No. That wasn't the sleepy?" real reason. October came at last. unread. I looked back once over my shoulder and Perhaps even. I revolution and love to us as the two most foolish had just returned her. The older and to you. I have been stand the color of the jacket." reading a book about Socialism and I'm all worked "I see. we no longer trust the "I'm sorry. and we "Why? What was the trouble?" realize it is precisely because they are so good My friend was about an inch taller that the older and wiser heads have spitefully than I and very gifted in languages. It was then up over it.
I was weeping Mother's fever hovered a little over a convulsively. I spent in weeping. rather as it does during the "Mother's hand is swollen. how would it be if you put on again I felt the tears coming. "It isn't anything. Mother's hand is smaller a long time. was curled. the only nourishment he A little after noon Naoji arrived with Dr. Wada of Mother's condition and to get instructions "Mother! What's happened to your for the future. The stars were sparkling in the and more delicate. Unable to that mask Naoji recommended?" I had intended to bear more." strong odor." He rubbed his eyes furiously with his fists." I said. On that day she seemed to "I want to bring her back to health again. you noticed? When there's a swelling like that. when I smoothed my hair before the mirror. A lovable hand. One morning I noticed something I lifted my head. and this made me feel all him in the kitchen morosely eating soft. rushed this time into the
. I couldn't go on." My hands were clenched on the Mother. The old doctor. Had that whose. Naoji did not reply. It was some other veranda of the Chinese room and sat sobbing for woman's hand. I got up abruptly and fled to soften my words with a smile. where he forth nothing but jokes. another. She did not eat anything at But it was too painful for me to go on mealtimes. vanished forever? The next day the swelling in Mother's hand was The left hand as yet was not so swollen. What a disgusting thing She could not swallow anything with a to happen. weep aloud. It was thing. soft-boiled egg. Almost every minute I was not hand?" actually by Mother's side. Damn. would only Naoji's face also took on a gloomy expression. of a swelling doesn't mean anything." I realized that she was more worried about place. Please hire a nurse for to spend the night carousing at Osaki's me. a dazed and that. Then he would make his and a nurse. but even as I spoke the kitchen. I wondered. That distorted hand did not That evening when it grew dark I went out on the belong to my mother. the more miserable. Haven't frightening. Suddenly Naoji burst into tears. my eyes on rainy season. looking at Mother. She could not even drink orange juice. "How long has it been that way?" Happy days I had spent with Mother. in a corner of the room. The morning after I would find my health than her own. "You must be worn out when he was at home." when I put on lipstick. On the rare occasions Mother said gently. wringing my mushrooms in the soup I had made. "It's hopeless now. And every evening the floor. I wanted to There was no limit — and no use — to my tears. expression on her face. humid day followed would spend his day in and out of bed. "Don't you She lifted the bowl to her lips but see there's nothing we can do? We can't do a returned it untouched to the tray. hands. This much milk. who normally gave way back to the second floor. I don't know A gentle hand. then that I noticed to my astonishment That day Naoji went to Tokyo to inform Uncle that Mother's right hand was swollen. Her face also seemed rather pale When I went out in the morning fog to fetch the and puffy. There I found Naoji eating a I broke into a wail of anguish. I find distasteful even the smell of the want somehow to save her. breakfast most of any meal. one hot. because her throat was so rough and eyes and glared at a basket of flowers painful. sit up in bed to eat a little rice gruel. motionless. "It won't be long.Instead. "Mother. it was always with tears. hundred. even worse. flashed like pictures before my eyes. This was just about the time when there's no hope. who had always enjoyed end of the table." I said. boiled eggs. Miyake would take. autumn sky. he was certain from the strain every day. I turned away my she said. A hand I know well. hand. this event Mother remained silent. and at my feet a cat. Mother's hand was swollen.
and there full length in the autumn sun." I said. seigneurs in our family. I'd rather become a beggar. which gave but he's always been such a miser that no indication of stirring. he says older than when I saw you last. bed. We tiptoed out of the sickroom I rushed to the sickroom and sat beside her and went to the dining-room. "A marriage? Is it settled?" I'm leaving my nurse behind." you'll get better. I
. but you are the that we are poor now and haven't the snake whose eggs I burned." The "Self-support? The working woman! Don't doctor addressed his words in a loud make me laugh!" voice to Mother's sickbed. Even last began his examination. I will become a signal with his eyes to Naoji. let alone Mama." to worry about. Never in all "She's grown weaker. "What is it?" I asked. bending my head over "Is it hopeless? What did he say?" hers. other people. On the step a snake was stretched out well ask them to stay here. In other words. I." "At Nagaoka again. my eyes riveted on the snake. Naoji went revolutionary. of all times. stripes on the step in front of the porch. he forgot Mama's illness long he muttered to no one in particular. Naoji twisted his mouth into a smile. the light as the result of being preached to by a "Have you a place to stay." with tears as he spoke. I went to the porch and looked through the house is so small that we couldn't very glass door." by himself to show the doctor to the "What!" Naoji looked at me with an odd gate. later the expression on his face Just then the nurse called. surprisingly self-possessed. "Your mother seems betrayed that he was holding back his to want you for something. Please go but he said that as we are now we can't and look. This concluded." tears. "I had a dream. "I have somewhere to everything." afford such a big gather-ing." His eyes filled said in a small voice." telegrams to everyone. For whatever reason. and "No. Mother remained silent." please make good use of her. will be the one who will have yourself and eat a great deal of to depend on his favors. You are a little bigger and neighborhood. I have already felt means to send for all the grands your vengeance. then gave a "No. there. I felt dizzy. I have a "But after all. or at any rate you. If you take nourishment go. doctor?" miser. "What kind of dream?" "I wonder if we shouldn't send "About a snake. so there's nothing for you dependent on him. There's all the difference between him and Mother asked in a delirium. will now be reservation. I was I was startled. the over. you must think more of You. When he returned a few minutes expression. my dear sister. After a while she come in a day or two. so go away at once. "Water?" The doctor said that the end might She shook her head faintly. night. have grown much more pronounced. Even I stood up with a feeling of growing cold all supposing people would come. not self-support. "I believe you'll find a female snake with red "I discussed that with Uncle Wada." whatever you like. I'll be back tomorrow. Her weakness seems to wished to say something. Instead of fretting about "Nothing doing. us. Uncle Wada is This prayer went through my head as I stood supposed to come here immediately.sickroom in a kind of rage and at once we can't depend on him to help us. anything and "I —" the tears came. He makes me sick." He gave Mother the course of world history has anyone ever seen a camphor injection. are no decent hotels in the I know who you are. but I could tell that she "Disgusting. enough to give me a severe lecture.
I had time to time in a composed tone. I could not Mother. but I took out looked off at the sea sparkling in the distance. "there's no snake here. Mother used always to point myself may be said to be happy now." something akin to a sensation of Mother smiled sadly and said. glittering gold sunken at the bottom of the river of I spent the whole of the next day sorrow. He probably is happier these it now could barely pass Mother's days than ever. I put the nurse they printed the other day he seemed really completely in charge of her." There was much more I wanted strange that I spent all my time glued to say. my face crimsoned. and I stopped other thought in the world. at the realization that I had I suddenly wondered whether Mother might not now reached the very bottom of agony. none. peace of mind one might want to cry. That day I did not feel autumn garden. but not very prohappiness. you wear them. She spoke in a low voice. I stamped my foot. A sunlit. "I have been very ignorant of the sake. out place after place in my knitting that A calm autumn morning." Mother turned When I was a child I could never knit her face away." even say. The feeling of that strange pale light close to Mother's bedside. and even I ficient at it. slowly gliding away." throat. After seeing the snake the "Why?" tension in my heart had melted into "The Emperor has been liberated too." I cried upset as I used to get then. mellow was poorly done. young and cheerful." "I don't understand the world. but I was ashamed lest the nurse. Your dream was not true. only to be swept by in a voice that was louder than nostalgia at the thought that this was the last necessary. abruptly. I am when once one has exceeded all the bounds of much faster than most people at unhappiness — if that can be called a sensation of knitting or sewing. However. the tears don't come any more." I see my knitting for the tears. Mother stared at my hands." I myself had seen a snake twisted I held that section of the newspaper above around every tree in the garden. looked again at the step and saw that Mother did not appear in any pain as she lay the snake had at last moved and was there." strength to sit up in bed and remained "No. Mother's face. I put down my knitting and particularly like knitting." I said. "Even when I happiness.
. aren't you? caught me up on my words. and all I had done was to moisten her lips There was no hope. it's a poor photograph. so that Mother would not think it world until now. knitting. Resignation first began to germinate in she was quite conscious and spoke to me from my heart after I saw the snake. began to knit with a making preparations in a corner of the room for a determination that suggested I had no vein injection. As for food. almost to properly. my mother. time that Mother would ever guide me. should hear. and now I discovered myself just as nurse. Mother seemed to have lost the "He's grown old. "You're "You say until now. In the photographs in a perpetual doze. the Emperor. actually be happy now. and newspaper. "No. no matter how much Mother herself." Mother with a wan smile making socks for yourself. I'd like to look at it again. who was to her bedside. whether the sensation of My only thought now was to be with happiness might not be something like faintly Mother as much as I could.didn't want the snake to be seen by the helped me. unless you increase the you understand the world?" length by eight they'll be tight when Inexplicably. occasionally with gauze soaked in tea. "You mean that now Don't forget. my box of yarn and for appearance's "Mother. She had not taken any food since morning. "I seem to recall heard that when my Father died there having seen a picture of the Emperor in the was a small black snake by his bed.
I went up to the second floor. his eyes down. She slipped her hands back contaminated with blood. Naoji. she joined her hands together in hating nor betraying anyone. She was still perfectly conscious. last for another four or five days with the help of "Where's Naoji?" Mother asked after the injections. But there were no tears. I were turning into a calculating. I showed Mother the sandwiches my uncle Shortly after noon."I don't either. automobile stopped in front of our gate. and my aunt — to the Chinese unprincipled creature. "You are kept so busy. simple compliance. "Yes. My uncle Wada and my aunt had We chatted for a while in the Chinese arrived from Tokyo. as if his words somehow seem hideous and had relieved her. their return. She smiled in the magazine. myself on the floor and tried to twist my I was weeping. she must have felt minded of me. and her heart was not too seriously affected. Miyake arrived at this moment and at once But there was something to which I administered another injection. I thought that near Mother's pillow. Miyake. moistening her lips. Call it lowhad been able to see my uncle. but tears shone in their eyes." Mother murmured. to survive-those things Mother shut her eyes lightly. of a pregnant snake digging a hole. an them next to her pillow." I particularly intimate way she has always reserved said. Now that Mother could not resign myself. and I felt as though some lunch. room. I curled under the covers. ." accomplish my desires. I must survive that nothing remained for her to live for. body into the posture. My uncle handed me an envelope Mother hid the lower part of her face containing some money. I understand. romanticism and sentimentality were I went to the dining-room where I prepared gradually vanishing. It was assumed that Mother would made me think of a doll. not taking her would return together with Dr. no matter patience and do your duty! We who truly suffer — how much time goes by. And. "Mother is calling for you. while I sat next to had brought us as a souvenir of Tokyo and put Mother. and Naoji. Dr. My uncle and aunt apparently had went into the sickroom and sat himself business that night in Tokyo which necessitated without a word by Mother's bedside. who left eyes from my uncle's face. He decided that they with a handkerchief and. We don't though indeed the spirit is willing. From now on I must When we had seated ourselves side by side struggle with the world. have does. though it with Mama." she said in a little voice scarcely more than
. "It must have been a terrible rush for "What — another tragic scene? O ye you. a while. neither to my uncle. began to parting orders with the nurse about the treatment weep." but to live. for me. I such people. I took the four plates — for my uncle. Naoji After I had shown everyone to the gate I went was sprawled on a sofa reading a back to Mother's room. my They did not speak. I can't go on in downstairs with me. the flesh is understand anything." weak — we by no means have the energy to sit I must go on living. She said." He flung on his jacket and went may be childish of me. world to come there will be no room for My uncle nodded expansively. In the supplication. My uncle at once room. it. Turning next sadly. please put an end to my suffering soon. She to be followed. We all remain children. The dying are beautiful. and struggle with the world in order to "Doctor. she suddenly thrust her Mother might well be the last of those hand out from under the covers and silently who can end their lives beautifully and pointed first at Naoji and then at me. struggling with no one. understand. Now that it was The doctor and my uncle exchanged glances. as I remembered sobbed. I wonder if anyone of strong nerves and shallow feelings. looking at me. if you will. the doctor. clear that Mother would soon die.
expression had suddenly changed. shine. Why is physical love bad and spiritual love good? I don't in my grief. Love. That and nothing else. and the daughter in law against her mother in And even that had happened so quietly law. even to use the word is hypocrisy. -----
CHAPTER SIX / OUTBREAK OF HOSTILITIES
Outbreak of hostilities. styling it "capital" for his
. that it seemed almost to inappropriate in my case as well. be ye therefore wise as serpents. for the sake of a passion she on her new economics for her survival. Her face in death was almost Think not that I am come to send peace on unaltered. is not worthy of me. but a sword. neither shoes. There is something for which I absolutely have to fight. I could not understand. I send you forth as sheep in the midst away . and the daughter against her mother. . as of wolves. The words of ----teaching spoken by Jesus to his twelve disciples. and followeth Mother seemed more captivating even after me. I could not remain forever immersed letter. your purses. in the still autumn twilight. Her face was so full of hesitation the true love of God. on terms so bad. across my mind. nor yet staves: About three hours later she passed Behold. And he that taketh not his cross. nor silver. as though she were smiling. her And fear not them which kill the body. with all my force to love. than she was in life. She must have been happy to Provide neither gold. or for the sake of the cannot go on living unless now I cling sorrow they engendered. I thought. who not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which was the last lady in Japan. that we did not know exactly when she And a man's foes shall be they of his own had ceased to breathe. to the very Outbreak of hostilities. Naoji and I then began the scribes and Pharisees and the men our life together. Her pale lips were faintly daughter more than me is not worthy of me. and her pulse was being taken by the nurse. nor brass in see Uncle.a whisper. Those were the last words that Nor scrip for your journey. her face had gone down the previous He that loveth father or mother more than me day. and her cheeks were now smooth is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or as wax. If because of love I were to swear to obey without fail these teachings of Jesus. harm-less as doves. Mother spoke. that even when of authority of this world and to we met face to face we did not speak. neither two coats. The thought that He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that she looked like Mary in a Pietà flickered loseth his life for my sake shall find it. When my father died his earth: I came not to send peace. but For I am come to set a man at variance against Mother's was exactly the same as in his father. could destroy her body and soul in Gehenna for Just as Rosa Luxemburg had to depend the sake of a love. my beautiful mother. . life. I wonder if He would condemn me. curved. when he was about to send My uncle arranged for the cremation in Izu and them forth to expose the hypocrisies of the observances in Tokyo. No. but are two children. are not entirely animation. The swelling in house-hold. Naoji sold proclaim to all men without the least all of Mother's jewelry. is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. A new understand. watched over by Naoji and myself. Only her breathing had stopped. I would like to boast that I am she who ethics. I can't help feeling that they are the same.
servility. Uehara's house was. I asked. lunch stand in front of the station. I stuffed my bag with of pity." minutes' walk from the north exit of the I could have leaped with excitement." cosmetics and food and left for Tokyo to "Far from here?" see my lover. "It's in Ogikubo. It was already bench. When he had with a kind of wild desperation. There was the years." but the interior of the child would think of me in those terms and hate house was dark. "No. but he hasn't come home for two of my sandals snapped. she lighted a candle where Mr. will you? You can have the girl "Oh. . I foot without a sandal. You won't mind looking after the could detect no malice or threat in her tone. I going to bed early without a penny in our noticed the name-plate on one of a row pockets!" of houses to my right. stood up. Uehara. It's shocking." I whispered. "Mr. I intuitively felt certain that smile. "Who is it please?" I her. This voice. was usual. like a patient in the window panes with the finger tips of both hands. a whitish blob in She spoke with a genuinely unselfconscious the dark. last stages of some terrible disease. but I plate. I finished changing the strap on moment. One afternoon he turned up with a There was an answer. it was inscribed could be quite sure that one day this woman and "Uehara Jiro. Ogikubo Station on the Tokyo Suburban "Oh. me. and clapped my hands
. I peered at the did not actually consider them my enemies. . While I busied Station. but and brought it into the hall. I stopped a passerby to ask myself repairing the sandal. "But he usually goes . stroking the frame of the face deathly pale.publishing venture. As I stood there nights running. some three or four be all right if I went to Tokyo today? I'd years older than I and wearing an old-fashioned like to visit a friend I haven't seen in scent. But it was a woman's girl. who looked like a dancer. I —" But I had missed the cook for you. I'll spend two or three nights with flash of a smile as she asked. Behind her stood a thin little girl of about the name Uehara would be written on twelve with big eyes and a manner which it. displaying the wisdom "No. his "Excuse me. he would come staggering back. I hobbled over to the entrance. what is the matter with your sandal?" She Line." chance to say my name. "Would it and a woman with a thin face. "I'm sorry. She might have found I did not hesitate a moment to take my love dishonorable. "Is Mr. one suggested that she did not often take to people. At length. excuse me. I felt so forlorn that the nowadays and how quickly they burn out? If my tears came. appeared in the dark hall. at a loss what to do. Mrs. my sandal." She put one hand to her mouth as if Naoji had once told me after a amused." I called. house. Thus. they generally Uehara's new house was about twenty know where he is. and my daughter and I have been helplessly. Uehara gave me a leather strap which growing dark when I got off at Ogikubo I used to replace the broken one. almost with advantage of Naoji's weakness. Sure enough. but both of even after being informed I wandered our electric bulbs have burned out. I pressed myself exhausted himself in drinking in Tokyo. made things even more awkward than The entrance door was opened from the inside. and I suggested. At this thought I felt as if my love had all of a I stood motionless for another sudden chilled. Timidly. how terribly dear bulbs have become the dark alleys." She looked at my face with an expression of the serpent. A blustery autumn wind was invited me inside. All of a sudden I tripped husband were at home I could get him to buy over a stone in the street. Uehara at home?" quite naturally. aimlessly for close to an hour through isn't it. . I went into the hall and sat on a blowing that day. against the door as if about to collapse over it. adding. wondering what to do. and the strapanother one. If you go to the Shiraishi casual inquiry on my part that Mr.
Some of his front teeth were about one hundred fifty yards. nothing I won't do to be with him. Six years. There is no reason for God carrying on a rowdy. Man was born for love and so people were sitting around a large table. me. and he may be me. but I have been dark streets. let's see. Yes. He Was he my rainbow. was different. yes." I said case I'm sure you can find out if you ask at the and. Three of them to punish me. You it had now become sadly lusterless and thin. That's stuck out his long neck in my direction and where he's taken his business now. and signal with her eyes to Mr. Yes. I will. But he's not the kind of man to be bow. It was completely deserted. I love him so much I Again the train. There you'll find a hardware shop. called the Willow. Uehara is having One of the girls noticed me and flashed a an affair with one of the waitresses. Good-bye. and you'll find a little restaurant of a room. and I hurried along the his little girl is lovely. In a small smoke-filled room. He then
. and his mouth was continually mumbling. and friendly. I waitress was younger than I. but I think it's unattractive figure I should later make. I guess. Outbreak of hostilities. They told wife is an unusually sweet person and me the way to the Chidori.C. I wondered if she was the the sitting-room to clutch Mrs. M. but "He's at Asagaya. fled outside. I am quite aware that his in the gale until I found the police box. he he spends all his time there. I "I'll go to the Chidori and see. revolution. making a preposterously polite police box. Still seated.together to brush off the dirt. to the left. lunch stand in front of the station. Mr. I spied the blue stood on God's platform of judgment. I am not in the least were girls. I'm sure of it. He fields if necessary. and saw him. and followed directions until I reached to make room for me next to Mr. I got off at Nishiogi and wandered about help it. although they did in fact move a little closer. only discouraged and on the verge of tears. left by the north exit. and He gave me the feeling of an old monkey you go right from there. Uehara's girl with whom he was having his "affair.. drinking and wicked. I felt as if I were dreaming. bought a ticket. An people. He had become an I had no trouble finding the Shiraishi entirely different person. I really love him and there's smoking like the men. Uehara "He just left in a great crowd of filled my glass with sake to the brim. somewhat younger than I. missing. considered rushing into the darkness of refined. a harsh red. Six years. self-possessed. fifty yards or squatting with its back hunched over in the corner so. I got their loud merry-making. my reason for living? was not there. seemingly indifferent to off at Asagaya. drinking party. I "The Chidori? Where in Nishiogi is that?" I felt trembled violently at the thought. I'll I stepped inside. They said they were going to spend the unbearably intense foretaste of misery night drinking at the Chidori in Nishiogi. I want him so much I can't direction. almost running." The crowded in on me at that moment. I wondered to give it up in sudden dismay when I suddenly if I had not gone quite insane. The wind lacerated satisfied with just one place. the Willow. I trapped somewhere on the way to the Chidori. this time in the opposite can't help it. I love him. The other members of the party went on with and boarded a Toyko-bound train. realized the hypocritical. and the rims of his Asagaya Station and. I really love him." expressionlessly motioned me in with his chin. cast a glance around the spend two. Uehara. somewhere near the station. indescribably "I don't know exactly. His head straight for the north exit of the face was bloated and sallow. I sat down without saying anything. lantern of the Chidori and without hesitation slid and I haven't a trace of guilty open the door." hand in mine and weep with her. three nights sleeping in the room. In any "I'm most grateful to you. Uehara. Mr." really want him. I went to the station. you go eyes." long for him. His hair was as unkempt as before. ten or conscience.
" They banged their Mr. Group took a deep gulp. Uehara violently banged his glass against the glasses together with a loud clanging glass of the youngest and prettiest of the girls and and gulped down more sake. we're out of liquor. the liquor at Chidori is not cheap. enough. That proves Christ was quite a made a sad little clink. The Bible criticizes people who madam said in a curiously intimate tone. wedge his way friendly smile. It was as if that imbecilic rhythm were I stood up quietly and went to the next room. for the lavatory. won't get a thing to eat all night. parables about liquor you find in the "You both can hold your liquor. "And Kinu. one-what a horribly long-winded Hasn't it turned cold! Aren't you drinking parable that is! Christ's bookkeeping anything?" The madam poured some sake from was remarkably detailed. was a drinker. and "That's enough. shooshooshoo.filled his own and muttered hoarsely. new guest would straggle in and." Bible that you have to pay the last I sat next to Chie by the heater and warmed farthing. Uehara. than a standing there. a pale thin woman who looked pour the liquor wildly down their unwell." shouted someone. ah. and another "Do sit more comfortably. How would you what there is. my hands. "Let's A young gentleman: "Is 'two have two bottles over here. over there is "We haven't much to offer. guillotine. apparently waiting for me. emerged from the kitchen carrying a tray of ten One of the girls: "The only thing you sake bottles. at one sitting." shouted a "It's Ahah-ah. The liquor dribbled from the after group took up this meaningless corners of his mouth down to his chin. guillotine. the room on the way back to the party. best pronounce it? Is it Ah-ah-ah or leaning wearily over the heater. Fujita. "No. which he refrain. guillotine. I'll bet he could have put away two quarts "Guillotine." "Mr. Kinu. I'm sorry to bother you. Uehara. Then he gave out banged their glasses and drained them." said the sick-looking madam. I see!" the Bible. talk about is money. "Hey. Here. and again and again they savagely wiped with his palm." "Just a minute. Chie. next to Chie. with five or six enormous sneezes. drinker." shooshooshoo. only about the man Our glasses weakly touched and who is fond of it. It's funny how many The three of us drank in silence. man. on a cushion. into the party. the No sooner did one of their number pretty young girl I had noticed before. One man got five talents. Let's drink! Guillotine." shooshooshoo. whom I distinctly remembered having here. you ask this question was the actor. If you stay with those drunkards. with a "Aren't you at all hungry?" she asked with a bare nod to Mr. Uehara. but please take a place called Ahahah. Ye who are frightened the chant was taken up by another by virtue are trying to use Jesus as an excuse. I furnishing them with the impetus to asked the madam. When I crossed through throats.gentle. but cheap?" please go to Suzuya's and get two bowls of Another gentleman: "It says in the noodles as quick as you can. mumbling his excuses. was lurch off." seen on the stage." "Coming!" the maid named Kinu cried as she This from Mr. but you note it doesn't say a word about "Drink up!" the man who drinks liquor. Please sit down. "Guillotine. like wine. I have some bread with me. another got two talents. man in the next room. you know." the bottle into her cup and then filled our two Another gentleman: "What's more he cups." She added with a swallows for a farthing' expensive or smile. "Please have a Ahah-ah?" The man leaning forward to bite in here." the madam stopped her.
. Ahah. You should say.
" to the farm. drinking song. before which one can only gasp in apprehension. thrust it into a drawer. and Mr. it. "Guillotine. He's they could not go on living except in the way they probably got a dancer for his do. To be alive. or becoming a gigolo. "And still has a final alternative. "Guillotine." I said. For speak. "He can touch Uehara for a loan and
. I'll give you a quickly. "You're very much like him. gave me quite a turn for a minute. Respect? Sincerity? even tones. with the merest suggestion of a be more impolite to keep silent than to hello. even if it is as ugly as their "That's the way Mr." "Oh. I met him six years ago. "How is Naoji?" the madam asked The madam. I'm sorry. When that kind of spoiled child goes "At any rate. I'll pay the rest next year." people." said another for you to come to such a dreadful gentleman." a young man's voice said. "Sorry to to get ten thousand yen even after have kept you waiting. I was the envelope." I thrust my face in the steam "No. The company continued to roar the Mr. Ten thousand yen." barked. shooshooshoo." The madam offered me some. "Yes. respect or sincerity is like pulling on the feet of a looked again at my face. sweetheart now. How many electric bulbs "I wonder if something unpleasant can you buy with that? I could easily live for a hasn't happened of late between him year on that. But perhaps. interrupting with henceforth greet one another in the lightest a half smile. They always used to be There was something wrong about these together. Mr. "How should I know? I'm not his I won't be tricked out of the balance. guillotine. I felt as if now I were experiencing what receipt. "I am Naoji's sister. Uehara. her "A poor devil who can't do any one of the three voice taking on a note of respect." He shooshooshoo" without any let-up even plopped down beside me and without a word during this conversation." To be alive. really casually." people nowadays to insist on such virtues as The madam. Rubbish! You can't go on living with them." holding out for twenty thousand." with a pretty blush. handed a large envelope to the madam. "Am I to believe that?" The madam went on imperturbably. Uehara before?" was opened." I choked over Uehara. it you? Unless we can say hello.There was a rattle as the front door place! But you knew Mr. Uehara's hoarse voice before it gets cold." extreme misery is involved in being alive. "if people like us living in Tokyo cannot "Excuse me. perhaps the "Naoji's not a very economical type appearance that people make in order to go — women on top of liquor!" through with it. once born into the world. can When I saw you standing outside. "The owner's so tight I barely managed The maid entered with the noodles. life on a civilized plane will be finished." Chie answered in confusion "I'll bring it. She said with taken aback. I thought it would probably possible way. suicide. I there are only three possible courses left — return thought it might be Naoji. "Thank you. indeed?" said the madam. Chie said in man hanging by the neck. a laugh." rising from the noodles and began to suck them in "That's all right. "I'm told he's taken up dancing. not so much as glancing inside Chie with an earnest expression." said a gentleman's voice in the bad—" next room. "Please eat "A check?" Mr. "Don't think you'll get away with just this. it's in cash. guillotine. my words and looked down. Uehara planned appearance." keeper. "I've brought it. If it is true that man. just as it is true of my love. An intolerably immense under-taking "Naoji's character must be bad." must somehow live out his life. humming faintly. obviously startled. should not be despised. Uehara entered the room.
"Have you caught a cold?" "You wanted just the two of us to be "No." shoots have also lost their vitality. "It stinks. Even when they're perfectly bare." oughtn't to have come here in the first His arm lay lightly around my shoulders. of alcohol. is it? All the other rest of us? It's cold!" masters too. Mr. Whatever I write now is stupid and Uehara asked half under his breath." they're so damned complicated. aren't they?" I whispered." I murmured before I knew it." as if my body were being enveloped in his cape. on second thought. "Branches are He continued. "In that case she had fallen all over the whole world. They're not a bit like dead down a little and the sky was filled with branches. "Have a heart. A victim hatred which stiffened my body." leaves or the buds or anything else. they've all lost their vitality.get roaring drunk. Is it like that approaching the saturation point?" every night?" "Don't make fun of me! Women are all alike "Every day. Guillotine. Uehara merely grunted sleepily." Guillotine. I "You mean only Nature retains her vitality?" He said." interpolated "Yes. I nestled all the closer as from something in his tone that he had we walked slowly on. Frost. Chie. knew that he loved me more than Branches destitute of even a single leaf. I could tell at once but I did not deny him. aware of the "What?" fact that it was love he felt for me. almost painfully." shining stars. Damned nuisance. It's as though an unseasonable frost against his teeth." I was "What about love?" intensely. have you?" Mr. two women alone. "I don't suppose you have anywhere "How is your work coming?" to spend the night. "Can without exception. for a bed." sneezes. take her over there. "That's the nuisance of it. It's something He twisted his mouth into a bitter of a barometer of my intoxication. I haven't. They say he's still alive. guillotine.
. depressing." "Does the liquor taste so good?" Guillotine. shooshooshoo. It was place. "Utrillo. I remained silent. His paintings of the last ten Mr. at once I start to sneeze like that. guillotine. beautiful. We walked side by side. read my letters and in that instant I The branches of trees beside the road. What bathos!" with its head lifted against itself. "You mean the harmony between the blossoms won't you? No. blasted in the Mr. Something in his voice made me shudder. Hostility. "I?" I was conscious of the snake The twilight of mankind." "That's not possible. "Is there someone? Someone who is "You drink a great deal." smile. "I could perfectly well have slept thereupon gave several more of his tremendous in the same room with the others. paying no attention to years have been incredibly vulgar and worthless my obvious anger. I'm not referring to the blossoms or the I'll have to show her the way myself. shooshooshoo. Utrillo. stabbing the night sky. almost to Might be a good idea to ask at Fukui's myself. But the new the madam. "It can't be helped. mumbled on. It was an emotion close to "Yes. narrow. A corpse. didn't you?" I spoke with a my drunkenness reaches the saturation point. Uehara." you sleep in the same room with all the "It's not only just Utrillo. I have a funny habit-whenever together. Uehara clicked his tongue bud. From morning. The twilight of life. it and the black branches?" he asked in a somewhat would be dangerous in the streets for confused tone. sharp. "No. I love Outside you could tell it was the branches. middle of the night. anyone else. The twilight of art. The wind had died they're fully alive. "No good. all little laugh.
"He was a rustic aristocrat — shall "It's like a private dining-room in a restaurant. without so dislike him. fact there is someone. Uehara village life. you're immune rough. The kisses reeked of desire. he I switched off the light again. to bed. A short bald man absolutely incapable of understanding of about fifty in gaudy pajamas greeted us with a our feelings. "I don't like the aristocracy. I am a farmer's boy." "Quite correct. "Your atelier is "Even his Sportsman's Sketches?" hopelessly cold. it's cultivate a field. "I'm also a country girl now. Fukui. shooshooshoo. which "It really captures the feeling of we climbed. That's why I spoke as he charged into the house. fish for silver carp or scoop up minnows "Is that you. like tears of shame over a thumped so loudly down the stairs that it sounded humiliation. a comedy." much as removing his coat." This was the only word Mr. "You sleep here. "I've made a mess of it — I've velvet coat made of material Father once had
. it would have "Yes. and I house. Well. We entered a dark room. "That book — it's his only one — is Come on. Uehara?" a man's voice called. A poor country girl. Uehara shouted." through the hail to a staircase at the end." much too good for a rotten artist like Fukui." the man said again. That was all. be utilized. but every now and then even with his fist and again gave a great sneeze." He bitter. always a kind of offensive arrogance "Shall we go through with it?" hovering around them.guillotine. side by side. Uehara "He was an aristocrat. and I was furiously as if he were in his own home. but you despise them. wept as I accepted them. I'll take the second-floor room. As a matter of fallen for you." He took me by the hand and led me not bad. telegram! Mr. The eyes. "What about Turgenev?" "Please. I'll come for you tomorrow morning. place became absolutely still. Fukui's put up with. and after going to so faint rustle at the bottom of the much trouble. The prince and the princess We were walking on a road which have come to beg a night's lodgings. he displays an affectation I simply can't Everyone seemed to be asleep at Mr. no. When "Do you still love me?" His voice was you've got the devil's own luck." I realized 'What answer have you to make?" that I was dragging my feet in a desolate walk. Such people must I did not answer." "You aristocrats are not only The front door was opened." brows and pursed my lips." curiously shy smile. removed my spoke. our lovers' journey is winding up as darkness. As we walked again. Still." been something like "It can't be helped. never go by a stream like this one "Telegram. "Do you want a child from me?" from the usual run of disasters. Your brother "Don't strike a pose!" Naoji is a great success for an "You devil!" Mr. Uehara rapped my shoulder aristocrat. I I'm going. It's so cold followed a stream that flowed with a that all I can do is sneeze. half a I was incapable of laughter." His face approached mine with the He started pulling bedding out of the cupboard force of a landslide." switched on the lights. kissed. I "The tastes of the nouveau riche. beating on the recollection of the days when I used to door." He laughed. My tears were The toilet is downstairs and to the right. to bed. There's "I've made a mess of it. Mr. I contracted my someone. it's a without an almost painfully sharp telegram!" Mr. The tears poured from my as though he had rolled down. with a net in the streams at home. If I were to have "Did you read my letters?" expressed my feelings in words. we compromise on that?" isn't it?" I said.
for you." That morning my brother Naoji committed "How do you know? As a matter of suicide. For almost an hour I maintained I could never leave him. you know that there's Kazuko. It was an exhausted face. I body felt heavy. fact. a determined wordless resistance. A precious in the atmosphere and light of this world." aversion to this obvious — not to say primitive — "Only love. Uehara. "But it's too late now. What do you expect of a opened my eyes to find him lying next farmer's son?" to me. and I soon dozed off. It was the face of a man convinced that dying is not a sin." "It's the same smell as before Mother died. What feelings do you suppose a I cannot think of the slightest reason why I man has when he realizes that he will should have to go on living. also to have the right to die. I'm going. My Child. permit me to continue." dusk already. sad accomplishment of love. and I daresay that When the room became faintly light. My breast kimono. be." manage to survive whatever obstacles there may My love was extinguished. but I arms. as he lives? Hard work. took me in his I don't know when it happened. he ought to is food for the wild beasts of hunger. letters.brought back as a souvenir from It seemed to me then a face of a beauty abroad. It has been Hateful man." relief you can get?" Mr. "I was all wrong. My rainbow. never know happiness or glory as long Only those who wish to go on living should. Life is too dreary to endure. Even if I were to hear the Suddenly I felt sorry for him and four walls all shriek in anguish. victim. There are too many pitiful people. already fatigued. Somewhere an element is lacking which would My man. It is painful for the plant which is myself to live The face of a victim. I "Is this life you are leading the only am so happy I could sneeze." CHAPTER SEVEN / THE TESTAMENT "I drink out of desperation. barely loosening my obi. I am wanting." "But doesn't it tell on your body? I'm "It's morning!" sure you've coughed blood." Those who wish to go on living can always "Yes. what people call the glory of mankind is I stared at the face of the man sleeping comprised of just such a thing.
. and crawled into bed still in my unmatched in the whole world.-Is There is nothing new in what I am thinking: it is that a pose again?" simply that people have the most inexplicable "No. It's "That's about it. crampedness — they're heartbreaking. Whenever you can hear ----the gloomy sighs of woe from the four walls around you. Uehara laughed. "I am happy now. his eyes still shut. Naoji's testament: loneliness. The misery. happiness would still be at the saturation point. I had a rather serious bout the other day. Unprincipled man. the liquor I had drunk when I was The sad. All that amounts Just as a man has the right to live. But I am beside me. Just as you wrote in your idea and refuse to come out with it plainly. my feeling of yielded. Mr. That is splendid of them. soon to die. but I haven't told anyone. My throbbed with the sensation of resuscitated love. not a chance of happiness existing just It's no use. probably because of kissed him as I stroked his hair.
however. I had to oppose my that matter. "Yes. I had to reject my at a bar hurled by an ugly man at a handsome mother's gentle-ness. when I became a soldier. As far as attached itself before one knew it onto political the "people" were concerned. I had to be cold one. I was a and economic doctrine and created an stuck-up prig who put them all on edge unbelievably sordid mess. and in the effort else. I was perpetually prey to a render it repulsive. their energy put perish. he's just a himan being. I have. boys who It may be true that in any society defective had grown up in a class entirely types with low vitality like myself are doomed to different from my own. I can't the lout will assert. brutal. it make it extremely difficult for me to live. possible connection with democracy or Marxism an odd form of petty trickery. But it was half — no. I don't understand what I was going through. An utterance forty per cent is genuine now. to be philosopher or an artist. I had to connection with democracy. Later. The expression assuredly strong — no. not because of what they think or anything me on the defensive. And those Marxism proclaims the superiority of the workers. or. the "people" give me (with a fulsome politeness When I entered high school and first that is filled with malice) is a seat in the visitor's came in contact with friends of an gallery. believe that the person who first thought up this can you? extraordinary expression was a religious man or a I wanted to become coarse. and I could bring about the abandonment of all effort. conscience that he would have hesitated over it." Liquor was not expression fated to overturn the whole world and enough. would be revolted by my atrocious It does not say that they are all the same. and a remark which obviously had no sixty per cent — a wretched imposture. Without question it was the remark father's blood. sixty per cent artifice. terrible dizziness. seeking to salon turns my stomach. if you will. I thought that otherwise I jealousy and had nothing to do with ideology or would not be able to secure an anything of the kind. same as the rest
. On found the trick of converting such an absurd the other hand. It was simple irritation. it is now impossible for utterance into doctrine so great an affront to his me to return to those salons I gave up. the remaining What a servile remark that is. to my sister. I feel the to drugs.all I could do to stay alive up to now. but because of themselves. was as a last resort for staying alive All men are alike. and all puts on. not to give in to them. You can't I wonder if that might be a philosophy. I learned to use of countenance to strut among the common coarse language. I thought that was oozed forth from some public bar like a grub. or with Marxism for forget my family. lacking in all pride. distinguished gentlemen. Only manners and soon ostracize me. as they are called. not endure it for an instant. those It does not say that they are all the same. that I took to opium. eminent citizens. no matter how much he return to the world I abandoned. the only way I could qualify myself as a without anyone's having pronounced it. aggressively sturdy stock. Even supposing that my coarseness is All men are alike. a public bar assumed a peculiarly doctrinaire cast I became coarse. with my affected airs. people. I had re-course some slight excuse to offer. They would never I imagine that Mephisto himself would have really unbend and relax with me. admission ticket for the rooms of the But what began as an angry cry of jealousy in people. Half in a frenzy I resisted overwhelming pressure of circumstances which them. That was why I had This astonishing assertion has absolutely no no choice but to take to drugs. The that degrades itself at the same time that it intolerable gentility of the upper-class degrades men. an "friend of the people. Democracy proclaims the dignity of the individual.
declaring (without offering the least help) that I I must be weak. after gained by another person's own efforts. I needed hateful life itself. whatever I attempted to will please try to think of my joy at being liberated do. But there was one The statement is obscene and thing: Mama's love. When I thought of that I loathsome. hold a woman in my arms with money that had I have never derived the least joy come from his work. happiness denied. It was in particular intolerably painful an aristocrat. from way back.of us. I would like to say a hated me for it and called it the cheap pride of word by way of protest. It was just that diversions out of the simple desire to being paid for by other people was somehow escape from my own shadow — being disturbing. Even when I went drinking with Mr. He the point of death. No. for? Anyone can see that he's a playboy Kazuko. a lazy. I don't really riot and threw myself into wild understand myself why I did it." Can't he humiliation. it didn't bring me the slightest
. he has frightened by one another. from such ornamental trembled with fear. Perhaps that is a that I acted out of respect for Mr. the aristocracy. "What's all this rationalizing a fruit shop. although I was entirely how much sadness my death will cause you. all. and abasement. I believe that all of the so. I ran writings." Up to now stay alive. convinced of the hideousness of the Undoubtedly you will weep when you learn the expression. that the vertigo of drink and drugs Any man who criticizes my suicide and passes could afford. as 1 have said. throbbed ceaselessly with anxiety. I know just I must admit. astray. to do himself bodily harm. Is it our fault that we were born And when I was reduced to taking money and aristocrats? Merely because we were belongings from my own house. I believe that your sorrow will more than ever the momentary peace gradually dissolve. but it was not out of pride that I Kazuko. for to defiled. Then everything went judgment on me with an expression of superiority. I was too frightened to be able to drink or to Please believe me. embarrassment." condemned to spend our whole lives in Why does he say "same. It's true. I felt that the right mocked. beauty to death would have to be left in abeyance. I can't even touch people for way I have always nodded vaguely in a hand-out. slave mentality! I should have died sooner. that just as called "anxiety of the age" — men man has the right to live as he chooses. I haven't the strength to quarrel with when people have spoken of me that people over money. I used to pass it off by saying out of amusements. of course. and repugnant to be entertained with money 1 wonder if we are to blame. honor dragged down — exercise it would have meant killing her too. effort as my mother remained alive. but that was a lie. is assuredly a prodigy among men quite just hear the old lout saying with a capable of tranquilly urging the Emperor to open snicker. that it intimidated me. but now that I am on Uehara. felt shy and sentimentality as you may indulge in — but if you embarrassed. There must be a should have gone on living my full complement of serious deficiency somewhere. I am better off dead. I always paid my share of the bill. paid. like so say "superior"? The vengeance of the many Jews. I haven't the capacity to selfish child of pleasure. I can days.couldn't die. we are and you to suffer. no one will be so grieved as expression. causing Mama born in such a family. I news — apart. Kazuko. lecherous. completely from the suffering of living and this and was powerless to act. every the right to die when he pleases. originates in this one incredible Now even if I die. apologies. Uehara's sign of the impotence of pleasure. and yet as long known prin-ciple violated.
my sister. Her has happened? It's useless. I stood up." and manage to survive through your She also rose and walked. of reserve. I wonder? We have become impoverished. I can't tell you how would have averted them in confusion. to a permanent) in a very conservative Japanese Why must I go on living after what style. but that many times I awoke only to find I had one time I felt not the least particle of shyness." she said. And even if I call it fiction you will. I wondered if what the word originally that I dare not speak her name. with no suggestion husband. by the use of false names. as if I have concealed it for a long. Even when I was on the eyes. about it — indirectly. wept in my sleep. feeling terribly name to anyone. It is money. rather than the stern virtue smelling the secret absolute and leave the world of textbooks of morality.pleasure. She is the wife of a certain pain. but his wife always goes about mother and sister) and you are with a gentle smile on her face. as if I were relating some odd bit of not even stand being bought a drink fiction. She held her head a little to the side. Kazuko. have children. I dreamed of her. I haven't any worries about undisturbed by his behavior. I imagine that you do know about her. you. since I am now It suddenly occurred to me that what people on the point of death. I lack even the qualifications to worry. recognize immediately of whom I write. "I must be going now. Her voice had quite its ordinary I have a secret. if my eyes had met hers. pretending to be intelligent. but now we can only survive by Japanese shape. I got it when I was a soldier and middle-aged painter who won sudden fame after have kept it ever since. I can only blush — like a robber ----who sympathizes with his victim! I feel sure that you will marry. She is a means. timbre. call "honesty" might well refer to just such an however. that I am still so terribly afraid expression. I brooded over it and pretence."
. you are beautiful (I have paintings in a new idiom. to my side. "Why?" she asked. meant was not something lovable like that And yet I feel that if I die keeping expression. and only you. least aware that someone who could imprecisely. I discover. "He'll be back soon. This thought so disquiets me that I earnest. Her eyes are the true others. tightly pulled back from her face. and looked me straight in the time. I have a poison that kills without real distinction. I am going clothes are shabby but spotless and worn with a to die. when my body is cremated the planned was just a front to conceal my insides of my breast will remain dank-smelling embarrassment — I was not at all in and unburned. In her eyes there was neither malice nor battlefield. the war by producing a rapid succession of Kazuko. For sixty seconds or more. looking Kazuko. The publishing business I undisclosed. but I thought that I happy. everything about her. and she always being paid for by others. and there was no use in being less fiction than a kind of thin disguise achieved earnest. For all of my stupidity I was at must tell you. I am would be utterly incapable of making sure. her face grave. The painter is very wild always been proud of my beautiful and dissipated. I always thought of paying for little older than you. "But—" would at least tell you. wears her hair (which has never been subjected Kazuko. long really in doubt. I stared into her eyes. like an almond. Normally. at my face. I finally said with a smile. Do you know. our faces about a foot I shall never be able to reveal her apart. with it locked within my breast "I'll come again. While I was alive and still had the although you probably have never met.
window. but as I grew more intimate. I was drawn in inverse my leave. or fears about the rubbish he pale blue of the distant sky. although he is fond of ranting almost without con-sciousness of what on about the agonies he suffers in his life of she did. nothing of coquetry or desire in the And. I had been drinking since morning with When he needs money for his pleasures. Tears forced their way Our whole conversation from through my eyelids. and his dirtiness signs of his returning. No. There was produces. I opened my eyes a crack and saw whatsoever of the paintings of other artists. and we something together which he sells at a high price had roared with laughter as we abused by posing as a great artist and by taking the so-called "Japanese men of advantage of the current fads. His only assets are culture. as a natural gesture of decadence. of such a moment? She had acted In other words. Her regular financial pressure he frantically splashes paint profile. I felt sweep over me one round of pleasure after another. His wife suggested that I wait. Incredibly enough. "noble. but expected back at any because I was intoxicated by the unique idiom of moment. when a blanket was gently thrown over He probably has no comprehension me." a wave of love and longing. proportion to the beauty of feeling of his wife. given that he is the kind of man who does kindness which had impelled her to not understand what he himself has painted. he daubs the painter in his apartment. That was all there was to it. her sitting quietly with her daughter in foreign or Japanese. his irresponsibility. against the clear blue sky of a What it amounts to is that when driven by Tokyo winter's evening." I can only say with certainty I am convinced that if anything at all of artistic that none of the aristocrats among nobility is discoverable in the painter's works. with a great capacity for drink and debauchery.
. and a sharp talent for business. but I fell painfully in love with her eyes it was rather that I was in love with someone of as they were that day. he is quite puffed up about it. Might not cannot expect him to appreciate other people's the word "humanity" be revived to use work. his lack of magazines. brilliance of a Renaissance portrait. and I pulled the blanket over beginning to end was completely my head." The painter — I will now come out with exactly Then it happened one winter what I feel — is nothing but a clever businessman evening that I was struck by her profile. true affections. it is whom we lived — leaving Mama aside most probably a reflection of his wife's gentle — was capable of that unguarded spirit. in point of fact he is just a stupid sympathy for another person."Do. I was also dozing off confidence. unimportant. one throw the blanket over me. When there were still no culture. his works and the fanatical passion hidden in and for half an hour I had read them. and now country bumpkin who realized his dreams by she was staring at the distant sky. In fact. I came to visit the painter's house You might even describe them as solely in the hope of getting a glimpse of his wife. expression of "honesty. One summer afternoon I Kazuko. he apparently has no floated against the background of the doubts. shame. its outlines clear-cut with the onto a canvas. in an coming to the big city and scoring a success on a atmosphere of stillness exactly like a scale quite unimagined even to himself. I got up to take disillusioned me." The artist fell asleep and soon the shamelessness of the country boor. This so painting. inflated his ego that now he spends his time in I shut my eyes. At first I used to visit the painter's house He was out. and I doubt whether he even her arms next to the apartment understands what his own pictures are all about. Far from it — all he does is carp and rail. had called at the painter's apartment. a stupid was loudly snoring.
As part of "What! That's what they mean. But the house in Nishikata no one else. On and done with. and I knew at once that she had loved me so embarrassed and afraid if. "Was that what happened?" my room in the house in Nishikata Street. I would like once before I die to write her Besides. I attempted to direct suppose. I can stupid pleasures. whichever one happened to be I'm missing if I don't do the same. Even so. to voice one more hope. Even after I waked from my my friends are out amusing dreams. when all from long before. And. and I sufferings I have gone through. virtual maniac of an artist terrified me. I more. I my resolve to give her up. remember also the long That is her name. The middle-aged artist answered. I think what all sorts of women. the bore when he was alive. and I matter of fact had a premonition that it would shall say no more of him. The I only would like you to know how reason why I brought the girl here this morning excruciating it was for me to spend my was that she had begged me to take her on a trip time in fruitless yearning for his wife. I told myself that I would can't do a thing.Once I said to him. I don't bear him any hatred. certainly not be long before I was dead. No enchantment. no. even when have to resign myself to that much and nothing I don't feel the least like going out. A genuine idiotstate it quite positively — I have never once felt hedonist. if handled by the rabble. after all he doesn't concern you. But now that you know. dissipation in Tokyo that I thought it might not be there is absolutely no necessity for you a bad idea to rest here for a couple of days with to play the busybody by informing that stupid woman. I should Somehow I was repelled by the thought of dying be very happy if this shameful in some public place and having my corpse confession of mine made at least you. the warmth of her fingers remained in themselves. would be dying this morning. by an aristocratic disposition." know it and are kind enough to murmur I always used to think that I would like to die in to yourself. I knew it would be rather anyone of this in the hopes of "winning awkward for you. I name. It is quite sufficient if just you myself. so outrageously in fact that even the really throw myself into it. any of my women friends was beautiful or lovable I could relate any number of other except her. I never dreamed when 1 arrived that I once more. "It makes me feel wife. a man who can only love one woman. but the two of us came anyway. I His answer was so pat that it made wanted somehow to free myself from his wife's me despise him from the heart. although I had as a He has many endearing qualities. That's why. and I was so exhausted by my That is all. it would the contrary. the flames in my breast toward another object It turns my stomach. acquaintanceship we have had." artist looked disapprovingly at me one night. when I told myself
. I study by myself. or any such thought flashed into my head "If I am going to kill thing. But it was no use. realized that now I had no choice but to die in this Once I dreamed I held hands with his house in the country. recognition" of the love your brother When you left for your friend's place in Tokyo. to have everything over suffering lies behind his dissipation. I am. and I available. and I Yesterday I brought a dancer here (a woman of feel so nostalgic for him that my ingrained stupidity) for whom I have not the least impulse is to go out drinking with him affection. but Kazuko. When I see some and recklessly threw myself into wild orgies with people having a good time. now is the time. understand better the Street passed into other people's hands. now that I am about to die." morality of the thing. unpleasant things about this artist. that I the palm of my hand. It was not that I was intimidated by the join the crowd. somewhere. he takes pride in his seem. Suga. but that half-mad. to forget it.
they become a holy mother and child. Victims of a transitional period of Then I wrote Mr. carry through your splendid career. unions. From the first I never set much stock by your character or your sense of responsibility. I no longer have the desire to say. probably to be my last letter. and I will have as a result the satisfaction of a good baby. most likely be the form your last struggle takes. you may earn the gratitude of later people death. politics exist in the world. I have no room for hope. Kazuko. Good-bye. I wanted to wear it. And now this chance." house in the country. I disregarded the old morality with a clear conscience. You are not here. as I had hoped. For a month I lived alone in the more by recklessly pursuing your life of vice than by your "splendid career. an aristocrat. I have one request to make of you. Now that my desire has been fulfilled. there is in my heart the stillness of a marsh in a forest. Nevertheless. after all. In the last analysis my death is a natural one — man cannot live exclusively for principles. I am. after all. and instead an extremely dullwitted dancer will be the one to discover my suicide. The night has dawned. I presume that since last we met you have been continuing your life of decadence or whatever it is called. Then I began to write this wretched memoir. if she has a shining pride. No. "Give up CHAPTER EIGHT / VICTIMS your drinking. guillotine. with a The revolution must be taking place feeling of futility. take care of your health. I cannot possibly think of it in terms of a "hideous mistake" or anything of the sort. which embarrasses me very much. Recently I have come to understand why such things as war. I laid out bedding for myself in the room downstairs where Mama died. I have made you suffer a long time.that you would be the one to find my body and imagined how alarmed this would make you. My drunkenness from last night has entirely worn off. You remember the hemp kimono of Mother's which you altered so that I could wear it next summer? Please put it in my coffin. peace. good-bye. I think I have won. Last night we drank together and I put her to bed in the foreign-style room on the second floor. I don't suppose you know. Good-bye. Once more. somewhere. I feel as if I had now lost everything. However much the waves on the
. For all I Everyone is leaving me. Uehara what was morality. The only thing in my mind was to succeed in the adventure of my wholehearted love. I felt so hesitant about killing myself that I could not possibly have gone through with it. It will. lead a long life. I have become pregnant. drinking with the ladies and gentlemen to the tune of "Guillotine. but the old morality persists unchanged in the world around us and lies ----athwart our way. That is what we both certainly are. I took care of everything after Naoji's know. But I am happy." I have no intention of suggesting that you give that life up. it seems rather as though you are gradually forgetting me. any of the other hypocritical injunctions. Kazuko. Victims. Even if Mary gives birth to a child who is not her husband's. I shall die sober.
It seems that you too have abandoned me. That's why you will always be unhappy. I'll tell you why — it is so that women will give birth to healthy babies. the little being within me has become the source of my solitary smiles. trade." or Nightmares.
His works I am proud of you and I trust I shall are autobiographical at least to the extent that we make the child who is to be born feel find in most of them the personage of a dissolute proud of you. however little. he drowned with the old morality. and even if on [INSIDE BACK COVER] account of drink you destroy your life. the most Human and works by Kobo Abe and Yukio beautiful thing is a victim. that But I think that in this first little victim. 1600victim I should like to ask your 1867. To give birth to the child of the man I love. But I am most anxious that you do feigning sleep. To M. but Dazai was also A bastard and its mother. gifted with a fertile imagination.surface of the."
. My Comedian. It needs more. child who will be born. He began writing short Not long ago I learned from a certain stories while studying French literature at Tokyo person in considerable detail about the Imperial University (which he left without a worthlessness of your character. I am not even sure myself why I revolution. young man of good family. I beg third engagement together with the you. you who have put the rainbow bohemianism and excesses. engagement. All the degree). sea may rage. and Mr.C. author of Japanese Literature: An Introduction for I do not feel like asking anything Western Readers and World Within Walls: more of you. Think this the one offense of a deserted And I intend to fight a second and a woman who is being forgotten. himself at the age of thirty-eight together with a You. Mishima. 1974 for his service to Japanese literature. please bear back the old morality. I should like your wife to take my child in her arms — even once will do — and let me say then. for the sake of the Dazai) was born into a wealthy landowning family accomplishment of my revolution. I have been able to push Are you irritated? Even if you are. and to raise him. far from experiencing a tell anyone. The revolution is far from taking Donald Keene is professor of Japanese at place. He is editor of Anthology of Japanese There was another little victim. awake. too. but on behalf of that little Japanese Literature of the Premodern Era. with me. particularly have given an object to my life. The Setting Sun and No Longer Human. Following several We will live in perpetual struggle unsuccessful suicide attempts. it is you who have given me this younger generation in Japan. Please do it for the sake of Naoji. the water Why do this? That is one thing which I cannot at the bottom. lies motionless. "Naoji secretly had this child from a certain woman. like the sun. not least for his strength. will be the accomplishment of my moral revolution. and soon became well known among the same. It is you who gained wide recognition for his novels. in northern Japan in 1909. grant it. unfortunate victims. I believe I shall be able to go on living Shoji Tsushima (whose pen name was Osamu healthily. Even if you forget me. this for me. but want it done. Uehara. and please. Literature and Modern Japanese Literature. Among his many other valuable. fight your struggle. translations are those of Dazai's No Longer In the present world. many more Columbia University. He received the Order of the Rising Sun in indulgence in one thing. please try to continue to lover. After World War II he of revolution in my breast. No.