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Title: Shibusawa - or, The passing of old Japan
Author: Adams, I. William
Language: English
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[Illustration: 'I trust you, honourable sir, to speak further if you so
desire.']



                               Shibusawa


                        The Passing of Old Japan

                                   By
                            I. William Adams

                             [Illustration]

                             Illustrated by
                           E. Dalton Stevens


                          G. P. Putnam's Sons
                          New York and London
                        The Knickerbocker Press
                                  1906



                            COPYRIGHT, 1906

                                   BY

                            I. WILLIAM ADAMS


                       =The Knickerbocker Press=



                                PREFACE


To hope to understand in a few short years or even in a lifetime the
development of the humane, refined, and notably progressive people of
Japan would be presumptuous; yet, if I can in these pages contribute in
some degree toward that end, I shall feel amply rewarded.

I am indebted to those who have preceded me in this field for much of my
detail. I shall, moreover, always hold that to my Japanese friends and
others, who so cheerfully rendered me assistance in obtaining original
matter, should be attributed any merit which this tale of old Japan may
possess. Without them it could not have been, and for its shortcomings I
alone am responsible.

    NOTE.--The superior figures throughout the text refer to the
    notes in the appendix.



                                CONTENTS

    CHAPTER                                                     PAGE

    INTRODUCTORY                                                 vii

    I. THE CHRISTENING                                             1

    II. EARLY LIFE                                                12

    III. MEETING WITH KINSAN                                      21

    IV. COURSE DETERMINED                                         29

    V. THE HIDDEN CAVE                                            35

    VI. THE PLEDGE                                                47

    VII. AN UNEXPECTED COMMAND                                    51

    VIII. THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY                                   59

    IX. THE WEDDING FEAST                                         65

    X. THE STOWAWAYS                                              78

    XI. CAST ADRIFT                                               81

    XII. A WOMAN'S PRIVILEGE                                      89

    XIII. DANGER IN SHIBUSAWA'S ABSENCE                           97

    XIV. THE "NO" DANCE                                          104

    XV. HOME ABANDONED                                           111

    XVI. A GREAT SORROW                                          118

    XVII. THE CHILD                                              122

    XVIII. THE VOW OF VENGEANCE                                  129

    XIX. THE POET'S BANISHMENT                                   132

    XX. THE FORTY-SEVEN RONIN                                    136

    XXI. THE HOME-COMING                                         142

    XXII. A MEETING IN THE GARDEN                                147

    XXIII. AN UNEXPECTED CALL                                    153

    XXIV. THE GEISHA PARTY                                       160

    XXV. THE UNHAPPY MEETING                                     167

    XXVI. DAIMYO'S PROCESSION                                    175

    XXVII. SHIBUSAWA RECLAIMED                                   182

    XXVIII. THE DAIMYO'S ARREST                                  188

    XXIX. MAIDO'S PENALTY                                        199

    XXX. THE EARTHQUAKE                                          208

    XXXI. THE CHILD'S FATE                                       212

    XXXII. RONIN RAIDS                                           218

    XXXIII. THE RISE OF SHIBUSAWA                                223

    XXXIV. NEHACHIBANA'S REVENGE                                 232

    XXXV. MOBILIZING THE SAMURAI                                 241

    XXXVI. BATTLE OF FUSHIMA                                     248

    XXXVII. THE TRIUMPHAL ARCH                                   255

    XXXVIII. SAVING THE ARMADA                                   258

    XXXIX. THE BIVOUAC                                           265

    XL. SIEGE OF TOKYO                                           267

    XLI. THE RESTORATION                                         278

    APPENDIX                                                     281


                             [Illustration]



                             ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                            PAGE

    "I TRUST YOU, HONOURABLE SIR, TO SPEAK
        FURTHER IF YOU SO DESIRE"                 _Frontispiece_

    THE TWO-LIPPED CUP WAS OFFERED ...
        TAKARA MOISTENED HER LIPS THEREFROM,
        THEN PASSED IT TO THE BRIDEGROOM                      62

    KINSAN SAT IN DEEP THOUGHT ... WITH
        THE CHILD FONDLED IN HER LAP                         172

    THEIR STEELS RANG WITH THE PERFECTION
        OF THEIR MAKING                                      276



                              INTRODUCTORY


That to the new the old must yield had ever been exemplified in Japan,
as elsewhere, though until the time of this narrative she had not chosen
earnestly to measure the test outside the confines of her own borders.
The flowery kingdom of Nippon[1] did not know the world as others knew
it, nor had she as yet cared to know it, for she was occupied and
contented within her own sphere, hence satisfied and progressive without
coming into contact with another civilisation.

In love as in law this kindly civil and quaintly constituted people had
been moved and swayed, governed and ruled, by the one master spirit,
ancestor worship, as marriage was contracted and government prosecuted
in accordance with its divine precepts. Regardless of mutual love or
natural affinity, the family in its official capacity chose for the
husband a wife; and without its decree there was no release, though love
was the basic element of their social existence.

For better or for worse this condition prevailed and would have
controlled the destinies of Shibusawa, as it had those before him, had
not a new spirit risen within and possessed him as well as others with
whom he was to become related. At the birth of this young prince, which
occurred in the month of April, A.D. 1834, Maido, his father, was the
lord daimyo[2] of Kanazawa prefecture, comprising the then wealthy and
prosperous provinces of Kaga, Echigen, Sado, Echigo, Wakasa, Etchu, and
Noto, in the northwestern part of Japan. It was the largest and most
powerful of the shogun's[3] many prefectures, and Maido was the last in
succession of one of the longest unbroken lines of royal daimyos: under
the shogun, he was an undisputed ruler, and his people were among the
most progressive and peaceful in the land.

Here, as elsewhere, the lord daimyo knew no law except of his own
making; always subject, however, to the dictates of an inborn religion
and the payment of just dues to his recognised superior, the shogun.
Within the prefecture was the daimyo's estate and the source of his
material support, and though Tokyo, the shogun's capital city, was
decreed his legal residence, his prefectural land was the place of his
birth and succession, his principal home, and the real seat of his
power. Yet with all his wealth and influence and character, that he,
too, as we shall see, must inevitably bow is the unalterable law of
progress.



                               SHIBUSAWA

                             [Illustration]



                               SHIBUSAWA

                               CHAPTER I

                            THE CHRISTENING


[Illustration]Maido, the lord daimyo, came strolling, late one May day,
along a pebbled pathway in his castle grounds at Kanazawa, and while
doing so he caught a last glimpse of the great red sun as it slowly sank
toward the western horizon.

"What a glorious sunset!" said he to himself, as he halted and breathed
deeply the sweetened air that floated by, lazily flagging the cherry and
cypress trees standing here and there in the garden about him.

He paused only a moment, and then slowly approached the family mansion,
where he cast his sandals upon the flagstone and bounded upon the
polished veranda with a vigour that bespoke a well-preserved age at
fifty or more. Once in the house he quietly proceeded to the great
chamber and softly clapped his hands, whereupon a servant noiselessly
approached, bowed low, and held for his convenience a silken kimono,[4]
which he donned and folded in front. Having thus clad himself he turned
his back upon Kimon (the Gate of Demons, or northwest comer of the
room), crossed his toes under him, and squatted upon the soft, matted
floor.

A second call brought another servant who placed on the floor in front
of him a lacquered brazier filled with live coals, a tobacco tray with
tobacco, and a little metal pipe with a long bamboo stem. Maido then sat
there, quiet and alone, smoking and wondering, and looking out over the
glistening waters at the beautiful sunset, until his eyes closed and his
head nodded, and perchance he dreamed of the glories yet to befall the
great and good house of Kanazawa.

Presently a sliding partition softly opened and there stole to his side
a little butterfly whose fairy-like steps did not awaken him and whose
presence was unheeded until she cautiously whispered:

"Heigh! my lord, my daimyo, am I welcome, that I come?"

"Heigh! my wife, my Kakezara, I trust it may not be other than welcome
now that you have chanced to come without Maido's permission."

"Even so, my honourable master, I present you with a child, born
erstwhile the seventh day."

"Then have you no better words than these? You know well my wishes.
Seven wives have I married and do now give shelter within this splendid
castle. To you, the last, is well known my wish, my hope, my command. It
is well that you bow low, for if the word be spoken falsely, and speak
you shall, then will I unsheathe the sword of Amanosakohoko and bury the
tempered steel deep in your heaving breast. No, I will not so degrade
you, but will sentence you to harakiri[5]--a death and punishment more
befitting your stupid self, for it is a great sin to disobey your lord
and master. But speak the word, and truly, and I will raise up your
blushing face and mete you the proudest and grandest within my gift.
Speak as I command, Kakezara, and you shall be the choice of my heart,
the queen of my household. All other wives shall be as servants and
shall respond to your bidding. Of kimonos you shall have without number.
Your chair shall be inlaid with mother-of-pearl and lacquered with pure
gold from the mines of Sado. Sweets suited to your taste shall be made
of the best and purest. Speak, O Kakezara, and you shall henceforth
reign queen of Maido's household."

"My lord, my daimyo, then I would that it were not true, for I cannot
undo that which is done even though I am to suffer the ills of an
unhappy lot: position is a husband's due, then a wife's happiness. By
the spirit of my ancestors and the grace of the gods your command has
been obeyed--it is a son."

"Ebisu! Ebisu! O Ebisu! god of good luck, how Maido is this day honoured
and the gods pleased! for it is my command that he be named Shibusawa,
and it is the will of Jimmu that he rise up to good and mighty deeds.
Rise, Kakezara, my queen, and place the child in the arms of Okisan; and
you, slave, take care that your charge receive due attention that he may
grow up strong of body and mind, for so sure as he live he shall be
tried by all the gods of hatred and woe. I charge you that no morsel be
given him except by your hand, for should ill befall this my child then
beware of the ancestral demons who dwell at the shrine of Jigoko.

"Kakezara, my lady, proceed to the inner chamber and there remain in
strict seclusion until coolies have fetched water from the river Yamato
in which to bathe; for as you live you have a secret, and until
strengthened by the spiritual waters the temptation to divulge might
overcome your desire to obey. I have imparted to you something of that
which the gods have willed Shibusawa, that a mother's love and
solicitude may the better shield his tender years. Keep it sacred under
pain of displeasing your husband and provoking the wrath of Oni, for as
it has pleased me that you obeyed so let it please you to obey. Hence,
my lady, my Kakezara.

"Yendo, ass that you are, pretending ancestral birth befitting to serve
a lord daimyo so good and great as I, come hither and bow low before the
father of Shibusawa. Go carry Maido's command to the temple of Yeiheiji
that seven times seven solemn strokes be sounded, calling upon the
spirit of Amaterasu to awaken, that she may welcome the new born. Send
swift running messengers to notify all the people that Maido, their lord
and master, is the father of a son, christened Shibusawa, whom it has
pleased the gods shall rule his ancestral heritage in obedience to the
dictates of his own conscience and with honour to his majesty's shogun.
Cause to be hung above the entrance to every house red and yellow
lanterns that all may take notice, for to those who remain ignorant
shall appear spirits mounted upon dragons with eyes of fire and nostrils
belching clouds of flame and smoke, as they charge down through the
heavens toward Ema-O.

"Convey to the people my command that from the new to the old moon,
following next, none shall eat more than half his allowance of rice or
drink more than half his sake, bringing the remainder to their daimyo's
storehouse that a great feast may be indulged. They shall also bring of
their silk one-half and of their potted flowers many, that Kakezara, the
noble mother, may have kimonos without number and her gardens may be
filled with beauty and fragrance. Those engaged in the making of sweets
shall make such as will please her taste, and beware that none
displease, for better that ten thousand times ten thousand slaves perish
at their labour than Kakezara, queen of Maido's household, be not served
without the slightest displeasure. Let the most famed of workers in wood
and lacquer be called together that they may counsel with one another
about the making for Kakezara a chair; and, as I myself have taught them
well in this art, let all beware that when the work is done there be
none other so good; for I shall not be so base as to spare even one who
shall in the least manner slight his labour or fail in his part.

"I command that the governor of each province select the fairest
daughters from among his kinsmen, that there may assemble at the shibai
(place of amusement), during the first moon of the iris and the lotus,
not less than seven times seventy-seven virgins with rosy complexions
and pleasing manners, for the goddess Benten has willed Maido the
pleasures of at least three moons. Tell the household keeper to make
ready chambers fronting on gardens filled with the perfume of flowers
and the song of birds, and, when the hour has come, to assemble these
fairies in the silken hall of love, that their lord daimyo, like Jimmu
of old, may descend the fêted stair into a world of beauty and pleasure.

"And when all else has been done you will instruct him that henceforth
Kakezara shall occupy the choicest pillow at the head of Maido's lawful
wives, and that of them her voice shall be first in authority: that her
rank at bath shall be next to Shibusawa's and first among her sex."

The news of Shibusawa's birth and christening soon spread, and the
excitement wore heavily from the meanest coolie to Maido himself, though
probably none was more worried than Yukesan, the oldest and meanest
servant in the household. This faithful old slave had climbed daily, for
seven successive days before the christening, to the top of Onnasaka,
and each time as often bumped her head upon the cold hard stone at the
base of Kishemogin's tomb, praying for the goddess mother of fiends to
come and claim the new born. For seven months prior thereto even, she
had importuned this fiendish goddess to render Maido's lawful wives
incapable of bearing a male child, hoping that her own fatherless imp,
Okyo,--now seven years of age, with slight form and stooped shoulders,
his eyes small and his head peaked, whose hair stood out like bristles
on a porcupine, while his nose looked owlish and his ears as a
squirrel's,--might naturally be adopted and thus become the inheritor of
his master's rank and place.

The rest of the household busied themselves with the day's rounds or
discussing the probable change at the castle, for little were they
interested in outside affairs. They were not concerned with the possible
new daimyo's bearing upon the welfare at large, for they were destitute
of power to aid, hence without any inclination to heed; where the only
hope in life was to do the bidding of a master. Each courted his own
content and permitted others likewise to suffer or adapt their own
circumstances. They were an independent lot, hence their abject
dependence.

When, therefore, the hour for feasting had arrived, and each little
tray, hustled in and set upon the floor in front of the person served,
was seen to contain a small satsuma bowl, filled with a rare
delicacy--consisting of real live worms (a kind of salt water shrimp),
wriggling and crawling, and served only upon extraordinary
occasions--everybody accounted his master a noble of the royal blood.
Eating, smoking, and drinking were interspersed with a lagging
conversation until the last was stretched at length upon the spotless
matting, his only place of sleeping. Maido, too, had gone to sleep at an
early hour, and when he awakened the next morning he felt refreshed, and
was well pleased with a recollection of preceding events. Without
rising, he reclined on his elbow and looked out at the landscape around,
for early in the morning servants had noiselessly removed the outer
partitions so that their master could lounge on the floor and enjoy the
open air at his pleasure. This morning the sun's rays seemed to give a
little more warmth than usual, and as they fell amongst the green
foliage the large drops of dew reflected sparkling gems that lolled on
the hollow leaflets, or trickled down the long and bended blades of
grass.

"What a glorious world, and how sweet to live in!" thought he, as he lay
there revelling in the beauties of art and nature.

Strong and vigorous of body, mind, and heart, as only those are who are
at peace with the world, he arose and briskly crossed the room to the
inner veranda. Then, casting off his night kimono, he lightly tripped
down upon a marble slab, and running along the smooth footpath to an
arbour, overhung with vine and flower, plunged into the bracing waters
already prepared for his coming. After the bath, massage, and shave,
attended by waiting servants, he donned walking apparel and sprang down
along the winding walk among dwarfed trees, under artificial cliffs, and
around miniature mountains; here he crossed a red-lacquered bridge and
there passed a gorge or waterfall; coming, presently, to a crystal lake,
he made an unsuccessful throw or two, then cast his rod aside and
continued his tramp in the open or through the brush and bamboo to a
distant corner of the garden. Here he slackened his gait and with
reverence approached the solemn shrine wherein stood the tomb of Hajama,
the illustrious founder of his august family; and there, in the quiet,
and alone, at the base of this strangely carved monument, he knelt and
clapped his hands and reverently bowed to the spirit of his immortal
ancestor.

When his morning prayer was finished Maido quietly left the misty place
and walked out again into the freshness of life and past the playground
where groups of children romped on the green or chattered with childish
glee. As he passed them by he paused only to look at them for a moment
and then walked on toward the great gate in front. Now and then he
stooped to pluck a leaflet, or stood listening to the tuneful zephyrs as
they played among the branches; sometimes he stopped to watch the light
and shadows chase each other across the grassy sward, or started at the
sonorous, "Haugh! Haugh! Haugh!" wafted from high overhead.

"Truly he is the master bird," sighed he, as he watched the black thing
perching upon a lofty branch or soaring above, issuing his harrowing
notes and stirring the nerves of superstitious Japan.

Presently, as usual upon such occasions, Okyo emerged from a cluster of
bushes and came bowing and bumping and crawling--half confident, half
fearful--after his master; who now stood admiring the huge wisteria
which overhung the black-lacquered gate and bronze trimmings. Observing
the boy's presence, Maido said, kindly, and without turning around:

"Heigh! is that you, Okyo, my funny little slave? Pray tell me what
brings you here so early in the day?"

"Heigh! I thought you might be lonely and I'd come and drive away the
fox."

"But, my lad, what have you been doing that your kimono is wet and
covered with mud?"

"I've been down at the beach fishing for crabs. I wonder why Kami
doesn't make crabs grow on land?"

"My child, he has placed them in the waters of the deep sea so that none
but the industrious and the brave may enjoy so choice a food."

"Are daimyos industrious and brave?"

Maido made no answer to the boy's inquiry but turned toward the fragrant
vine, and stood admiring the bright foliage, possibly dreaming of the
future of his son and heir, until Okyo once more began chattering.

"Heigh! great master, please why is the vine so large and beautiful?"

"Heigh! Okyo, it is because our ancestral gods have so created it."

"But why do not the gods create vines so large and so beautiful for all
men?"

"Because, my child, all men are not given to such beauty."

"Are all daimyos inclined toward only that which is beautiful?"

"Yes. They are descended from the gods of goodness and love, and as the
spirits of these gods dwell in the realms of heavenly beauty so do the
minds of daimyos dwell upon things of earthly beauty."

"If daimyos think and do only things which are beautiful, why do they
cut men's heads off?"

"That is done in obedience to the commands of our superiors; and, I
assure you, there is nothing more beautiful than an act of obedience to
our masters."

"Will Shibusawa be a daimyo when he grows up?"

"Yes; if his head be spared so long and his father's not."

"Will I, too, be a daimyo when I am a man?"

"No, child. How came you to think of such a thing?"

"Because mother says I look like Shibusawa, and I don't see why I
shouldn't be just like him."

"You shall be Shibusawa's friend and confidant."

"Why shall I be his friend and confidant?"

"Because you will comfort and console him during moments of
contemplation and despair, just as you have myself since you were first
able to tread about my gardens on wooden stilts."

"Why will I comfort and console him?"

"Because you are the son of--only a mother, who is of Kishemogin and
possessed of less wit and more cunning than a fox. Now then, hie you
away to your mother's mat and feast well upon rice and fish so that you
may grow strong in endurance, for you shall have many and severe trials
in following this youth ere he has much passed your age."

"Oh," said Maido, to himself, "see him run away in obedience to my
command! There is not yet a twig so crooked or a thing so small but it
can be made of use. As the mould is shaped so will be the cast. He is of
the right material. I shall see that he grows up after my liking, bend
him to the task properly, and thus provide the instrument through which
Shibusawa may acquit himself of the thankless duties imposed by
Bishamon, god of provocation."



                               CHAPTER II

                               EARLY LIFE


From the recording of Shibusawa's birth in the Keidzu, the daimyo's
great book, until he had passed sixteen (the average age of discretion
in Japan), there was but little in his life that is of interest so far
as this story is concerned. Maido was always solicitous about the
child's care, and took every precaution to have him taught only such
ideas as were in accord with his ancestors' and the preconceived notions
of the shogun's government.

The son inherited from his father much of his stalwartness and
determination, and from his mother something of those finer qualities,
tenderness and forbearance, which combined at an early age to quicken in
him a deeper sense and insure a broader scope of life. He evinced at an
early age an untiring devotion to his studies and to a research for
truth; and all the many castle buildings were soon even more familiar to
him than to Maido, and he knew well the history, the uses, and the
purposes of each. The castle ramparts were his playgrounds, and each
swordsman and every archer was a slave indeed.

Either in company or alone he had traversed all the macadam roads,
leading from village to village and province to province; and in palace
or house, from city to country, he knew the people and they knew him,
and as he grew older they learned to love and respect him as they did
Maido himself. Nor was he content with what he saw and heard at home,
but as he grew he began to thirst for a knowledge of the outer world;
though in this he had been discreet as regards his father, for however
ambitious his desires he had not once expressed a wish. Maido knew too
well that there were more peace and contentment and less crime and
misery at home than elsewhere, and very wisely wished his son to be kept
from too close a discernment until he had arrived at maturer years.

Shibusawa's desire to go, however, finally grew into a determination.
Whereupon, as was usual in such matters, he took Okyo into his
confidence, at least to the extent of consulting him how best to
frustrate his father without disobeying him. Now Okyo reasoned that as
Shibusawa had not asked the privilege of going he had never been
admonished to stay; so, after consulting Fudo, god of enlightenment,
thus easing his conscience, he advised that it was best to make ready
and go, without endangering their chances by asking permission of
anybody.

Shibusawa, though doubtful of its propriety, readily conceded the wisdom
of Okyo's reasoning, for above all other things he would not disobey:
strategy, while not characteristic of him, he deemed the proper thing,
as it was no more an inborn trait than a national virtue. Early that
autumn, accordingly, he began to curtail his expenses as much as he
could without arousing suspicion, and to save from his allowance a fund
with which to defray the cost of their contemplated trip. The time of
starting was a difficult thing to determine, as under ordinary
circumstances Shibusawa was almost certain to be recognised while
passing the gates, and unless a very good reason was apparent to the
guards such a circumstance would have been immediately reported to the
castle. Here Okyo again displayed his judgment by advising the day after
Nobori-iche, boys' festival (May 5th), it being the day upon which Maido
would start upon his regular visit into the country. This trip generally
lasted from two to four weeks, and ever since Shibusawa's birth the
starting had been put off until this particular date,--as often, when
the boy had grown older, he was taken along; yet his going was never
compulsory or even urged against his pleasure.

When the allotted time came Shibusawa again started off with his father
and suite, but before they had gone far he suddenly changed his mind and
pleaded to be allowed to return. Maido, though disappointed in the loss
of his son's company and not the least suspicious of a serious motive,
readily granted permission, and Shibusawa lost no time in joining Okyo
at a certain agreed place, where the former quickly changed his silken
kimono and lacquered shoes for the regular dress of a pilgrim, while the
latter with less trouble donned the same kind of garb. Thus disguised
they passed through the city and escaped into the country, in a
direction opposite to that taken by his father, and travelled along
unmolested until they had gone entirely out of Maido's domain and into
the territory of a hostile neighbour.

Having thus placed himself beyond pursuit, Shibusawa despatched a
message to his father explaining fully his intentions and assuring him
of his safety. Maido was, thereupon, overwhelmed with anxiety, yet he
made no attempt to follow. He realised that his only hope of seeing him
again lay in the boy's own discretion and voluntary return; pursuit
would have been the means of disclosing his identity to a bitter and
jealous rival, and thenceforth he must be in danger of death and
possible torture.

The getting off without discovery had so occupied and stimulated
Shibusawa that he had as yet given but little thought to the dangers and
hardships which confronted him. True, he was acquainted with laws and
customs at home, and was not altogether unfamiliar with those in force
elsewhere, yet he quickly discovered that the spirit and regulations in
a country continually at war are necessarily very different from those
of one where quiet and industry prevail. However, he had set out for a
definite purpose and he did not mean to lose courage, nor let any
obstacle stand in the way of accomplishing what he had undertaken. He
had chosen the one disguise that would make excuse and enable him to
pass through the country, provided he travelled from temple to temple
and shrine to shrine, the proper business of a pilgrim. And as Okyo had
had at home some experience of this kind he at first relied upon him to
lead the way and avoid any serious conflict with the numerous police,
guards, and spies who infested the region which they were about to
explore. He trusted to his father's good judgment to make no attempt to
follow; yet to be entirely safe he chose, for the moment, to avoid
Kyoto, and the more noted shrines of that locality, and to keep to the
westward and overland toward Shimonoseki and Nagasaki, in the extreme
west and south.

Wandering about almost at will and without undue interference they
visited all of the principal shrines and places, including, on the
return trip, Kyoto, Nara, and Kamakura in the far east. It was now
almost Kawabisaki, the Day of the Opening of the River (July
twenty-fifth)--at Tokyo, the residence seat of the shogun--and as
Shibusawa had never witnessed a celebration of the local autumn holiday
he very much desired to join in the coming festivities. Hence by special
effort and by hastily passing some of the minor places of interest they
reached the capital city late on the second day preceding the gala
ceremonies.

They were surprised upon their arrival, however, to find that they were
none too soon, and that the rush of pilgrims and traders already made it
difficult of obtaining quarters close to the main entrance at the palace
grounds, the much coveted place of rendezvous. As their expenses had
hitherto been even lighter than expected, Shibusawa was still provided
with ready funds, and he now proposed to get as near the main approach
as he could without seeming impertinent, and as a matter of convenience,
as well as respect, to secure the best accommodations consistent with
their apparent stations. Thus they finally established themselves at the
Look-See tea house, a favourite hostelry for the better class of
pilgrims, and were assigned quarters on the top floor plainly in view of
the gates and directly on the line of march.

This noted caravansary did not differ much from the rest of the
two-storied open-sided thatch-roofed houses resembling hay-stacks on
stilts that lined both sides of the narrow streets which emerged closely
from the outer entrance at the palace enclosure. Within the house, in
the broad and airy tea rooms below, or on the soft matted floors above,
these jolly transient and sometimes happy wits would sit or lounge
discussing, over a cup of tea or a bowl of sake, the topics of the day
or the gossip of their particular neighbourhood. Without, the brilliant
lights, the gaily dressed, the sound of the koto,[6] the song of the
geishas,[7] the clatter of shoes, the parley of tradesmen, the chatter
of voices, the endless round of life from early morning till late at
night, might well have turned the heads and emptied the pockets of the
thirsty throngs who ever crowded the happy-go-lucky place. Much of all
this could be distinctly seen and heard from Shibusawa's apartments in
the second story, fronting the plaza, nor did he lose an opportunity,
for he was there to see and learn as well as to rest and enjoy himself.

Thus he remained quiet and observant, without venturing upon the street,
until the evening of the second day after their arrival. In the meantime
Okyo had been sent out to reconnoitre the principal places and the
liveliest dancing girls, in which he was materially assisted by an Osaka
merchant who occupied an adjoining room. Thereupon, after a sup at the
restaurant and a quiet smoke on the floor, they all sauntered off in
quest of such pleasures and excitement as the night might afford.

As this was the last night before the grand parade the streets were
unusually crowded and the buying was brisk. Now more than at any other
time the servants and retainers and their families were permitted to
come outside the walled enclosure and into the streets in quest of
trinkets and gewgaws with which to ornament and bedeck themselves on the
following day; the chance to elbow these favoured ones, probably more
than a desire to buy, brought there many of the city's curiously
inclined; the opportunity afforded the guests, emptied the numerous
inns; and all together, when mingled under myriads of bright lanterns,
amid the tinsel and the noise, it was a sight most glaring and intensely
interesting.

Shibusawa and Okyo had edged their way along for some time and until
they had passed through the main shopping districts and into the
nokodos' (marriage brokers') quarters, with its barren little stalls,
narrow doors, and large gaudy sign-poles projecting like charred
remnants of a burned brush patch. Here there were girls in silks and
girls in rags, all being dragged alike, one after another, in long rows,
by mothers in need of ready cash, before the several nokodos, who were
each and all haggling and quarrelling over the price of this or the
qualities of that one; always closing the bargain if closed at all with
some ejaculation expressing great sorrow at having paid too much or
received too little for the "honourable unhandsome one." Shibusawa
looked on for a while not so much at the formality, for that was a
common thing, but at the attitude of the parties, which impressed him
deeply. He could understand the brokers' motive, as there are always
those who are designed to thrive on the weakness or misfortune of
others--especially when the law makes such a business legitimate or
possible. The mothers he divined to be mostly the victims of too
generous self-indulgence; who were now hardened by necessity and excused
by custom. But the daughters--why their complacency? Was it a decree of
law or of love that caused these young maidens, some of them beautiful,
attractive, or intelligent, to exercise the most stoical indifference
while the mother was bargaining them off at the best price obtainable?
As Shibusawa passed them by, or stood and looked, his heart throbbed and
he almost said aloud:

"Can this be God's will?"

Moving on with some difficulty they soon came to a place a trifle more
pretentious than others, where they unconsciously entered and pushed
their way close to the nokodo who sat on the floor at the opposite side
of the room. After several offerings had been scanned and pinched and
jostled, then bought or passed, a middle-aged woman of more than
ordinary presence first hesitated, then advanced and bowed to the
bejewelled broker, whose keen, sharp eyes squinted under a narrow,
wrinkled brow. A rosy-cheeked, innocent young daughter of fourteen stood
nestled at her mother's side, blushing, though erect. Shibusawa stood
contemplating not the persons but the act, and when the mother had made
her best plea and was about to accept the price offered his strong frame
shook, his face whitened, and he resolutely said in a clear voice:

"No; I will give you three hundred yens (dollars) besides an additional
one hundred to bear the charge."

The nokodo was more than pleased to get the lawful commission without
assuming any risk, and in consequence drew up the proper bill of sale
from Torimas, mother of Shiyoganai, to Shibusawa, a pilgrim.

It had been specified and provided that Shibusawa should be the lawful
owner of Shiyoganai for a period of three years from that date, and that
in consideration of the extra one hundred yens the child should remain
the charge of her mother. When properly signed, sealed, and delivered
Shibusawa paid over the money and carefully folded the document inside
his girdle, while he and Okyo then went their way and the mother and
daughter returned to their home.



                              CHAPTER III

                          MEETING WITH KINSAN


Shibusawa returned to his lodgings shortly after midnight, and soon lay
down to sleep. He had seen more of the gay side of life than ever
before, and though in a measure not averse to it he was deeply impressed
with some of the incidents, which he thought unnecessary if not vicious.
And now that the revelry was dying out and the night regaining its
quietude he slept soundly until a late hour. When he arose he pushed
back the sliding partition, and a warm burst of sunlight streamed into
the room; the air was balmy, and the once deserted streets were again
taking on renewed life; the brocaded hillside across the moat in front,
with its samurai huts and maple trees, waved and sparkled with a
thousand tints. It was a joyous morning, and Shibusawa ate and drank to
his content as he sat and watched the oncoming of the day's festivities.

He had not long to wait, though, for Iyeyoshi, twelfth Shogun, was more
noted for his ceremonious punctuality than for his official dignity;
there had been so little of importance to mark the shogunate for more
than a century that each incumbent had become rather indifferent to
everything except pomp and show. Therefore the procession began to move
promptly at twelve o'clock, and in less than an hour the chair of state
came up to the inner gate and halted--as did also each detachment,
before crossing over into the profane world--so that his royal highness
might bow and pray the gods for a happy going and safe return. Details
of soldiery and squads of officials, interspersed with symbolic banners
and huge floats, were aligned according to birth and rank, and as they
moved along, strange incantations or lamentations arose above the din of
discordant instruments and the loud shouts of excited men, who leaped in
the air or threw themselves upon the earth in wild exultation.

Shibusawa sat and watched the long procession slacken and start with
each recurring interruption, until a temporary pause brought to a
standstill directly opposite to him a high float which was arranged like
a pyramid and covered with flowers, shrubs, and vines. Amid the lotus
blossoms in the centre there sat a young maiden not more than fifteen,
who wore a crown of maple leaves and did her hair in a manner to
indicate that she was yet unmarried. Her hair was black and abundant,
and set beautifully a rosy face in which a pair of large dark eyes
betokened tenderness, if a little serious. Her kimono was of soft but
plain material and folded gracefully about her, and she quietly sat
there the queen of the shogun's garden, though only the daughter of its
keeper. She did not turn this way or that as others did to attract
attention, but modestly looked at the beautiful things around her,
thinking only of the honours due to her kind and beneficent shogun, for
whom she was then being privileged to do homage.

It was while her attention was thus directed that Shibusawa first saw
Kinsan. She sat so high up among the flowers as to be almost on a level
with his place of sitting, and she was so close that he could have
spoken to her had he dared or deigned to do so. She did not observe his
keen recognition nor was she conscious of his presence until the
carriers began slowly to straighten up and make ready to go forward.
Then as if by intuition she turned and looked toward him and as she did
so his eyes fairly met hers. Shibusawa did not look away, but became
more intent as her soft dark eyelashes drooped and a faint flush crept
into her cheek. A something which he had never before experienced came
upon him, and for the moment he felt bewildered and unable to move or
speak, and when the float had gone and Kinsan was lost in the distance
he made an effort as if to follow; then recovering himself he lapsed
into serious thought.

He had little further interest in the parade and gave no heed to it
until the high-raised chair and brilliant trappings of the shogun
himself went past. He was conscious only that a new life had dawned:
that something had taken hold of him which was new to his being;
something which seemed to wield a more powerful influence over him than
even the presence of the shogun--the one person other than his own kith
and kin whom he had been taught to revere as supreme.

The stately train marched along, though Shibusawa had dismissed all but
the one event; the circumstance that raised the most serious problem
which as yet had confronted him.

"Is it possible after all that there is something higher and better than
kings and ancestors?" thought he, as he grappled with the struggle which
had already seized him. "And yet the instrument of that something but a
woman? What thing is this that seems so contrary to all our philosophy,
so different from our religion, yet keenly gnawing at my very inner
self? I needs must find out and if possible confront the author; the one
who has so impressed me, even though she be but a woman and I a
transgressor."

So saying he called Okyo and proposed that they, too, follow the line of
march to the river's bank, or so far as they might be permitted to go.

By this time great crowds of sight-seers had fallen in behind the
procession, and Shibusawa was compelled to take his place with the rest
and plod along as best he could. The route traversed was along an old
roadway, which wound its course through a thickly inhabited part of the
city, coming directly to the ancient bridge Ryozoku. As they wended
their way past endless rows of deserted houses or closed shops, amidst
streamers and bunting, Shibusawa became deeply impressed with the
boundless patriotism and intense loyalty of the people. Everywhere they
were doing homage and nowhere was heard the voice of discontent. He felt
more than ever proud of his country, and realised as never before the
importance of each individual's place.

They reached the river, Sumida, long after the last of the courtiers had
passed, and the long bridge was then so thronged as to be impossible of
further access. Hence they abandoned that, the choicest vantage point,
and remained on the bank of the river, from which they got only an
indistinct view of the shogun and his suite as they sailed down the
river in their gaily-decked house-boats, and passed under the bridge,
the crowning feat of the day. Had they been closer Shibusawa might have
recognised, in a boat close after the shogun's, familiar faces--the same
that escaped him earlier in the day, while he sat dreaming of Kinsan and
the accidental meeting.

Now that the most exciting feature of the day had passed, Shibusawa's
thoughts reverted to the incident which had so deeply impressed him. Try
as best he might he could not dismiss it, and after a while he became
anxious, and wondered if it were possible to see her again; and if he
should, would she recognise him? Then he said to himself:

"Why should she recognise me? And, what is more, why should I seek to
see her?"

However, he did try to see her, and when it became certain that there
was no chance of doing so at the river he grew impatient, though more
determined. The daylight fireworks floating high in the air; the music,
the songs, and the laughter wafted from the river; the dancing, the
feasting, and the merry-making on shore, ceased to be of interest, and
by the time they had finished a light luncheon at a convenient tea house
Shibusawa became anxious to return to their own lodgings.

He had made up his mind that the most likely place to meet the young
maiden a second time was at the very one where he first met her. There
she should pass while returning from the fête, though under what
circumstances he did not know. And would she look again, or had she not
remembered him? These and many more were the questions which Shibusawa
asked himself during the interval of returning and waiting; and as time
passed he grew uneasy. Something burned within him, and he felt that he
must see and know this beautiful woman. He sat quietly in his rooms
thinking only of her coming. Presently a hurrying and gathering upon the
street signified the returning of the royal party; whereupon Shibusawa
sprang up and seated himself at the balcony's edge, so that none could
pass without his seeing him.

A number of detachments had passed in order, and then Kinsan came as
before, except that she was accompanied by several girl friends whom she
had been permitted to invite with her on the return trip. They were
laughing and chatting about things which pleased them most, and Kinsan's
added charms appealed more than ever to Shibusawa. He leaned over the
balcony, as if drawn toward her by an unseen hand, and prayed that in
some way her attention might be drawn to him and that he might once more
look into her eyes, if only for an instant.

Kinsan was so engaged with her companions that she seemed about to go by
without even a chance look, and as she came closer his heart appeared
almost to stand still; though he was soon to be transported, for when
directly opposite, Kinsan gave him the long looked for opportunity. Nor
was there any mistaking her intention for mere accident. Shibusawa read
that she too had experienced some sort of feeling which this time
prompted her to look, and to manifest an interest, if not desire. It was
more than he could bear to let her go in silence; she would not stop
again, and he had not a moment to lose; he felt that he must speak to
her--his very life depended upon it--he knew not why, nor did he care.
He must do what his heart told him to do.

Now had he realised his present position Shibusawa might not have done
what he was about to do, but with his whole heart set upon one thing he
for the moment forgot himself, and ran down the straight-set stairs and
out at the front, wholly under the force of blind impulse. Under
ordinary circumstances there would have been no breach in doing what he
sought to do, for custom gave a gentleman the right to approach an
inferior without the least formality.

When he reached the street he found it difficult to pass, and in
consequence ran close to the moving column and toward Kinsan. Coming
almost within reach of her he ran against an officer--who followed next
after her--and before he could fully recover his balance the angered
samurai whipped out his long sword and struck him a blow that felled
him; and not being satisfied with this punishment he made a thrust at
the prostrate man and ran him through to the ground.

Fortunately Okyo had followed close after, and upon reaching his
helpless master he threw himself in front and personally suffered the
tramping and jeering of the curious crowds--he was too grieved and
thoughtless to offer any other relief, and lay there face downward,
pulling at the soiled clothing and crying, "Shibusawa! Shibusawa!"

They had not remained in that situation long, however, till the lord
daimyo of Kanazawa himself marched up--his carriers stumbling in an
effort to pass the stricken Shibusawa and his faithful watch--when Okyo
cried out as before the name of his master. Maido, only too accustomed
to hearing this same distressing cry, would have gone by without heed
had he not unmistakably distinguished the name of his son. He listened
and heard it again, distinctly recognising Oyko's voice. Without waiting
to call a halt he swung open the door, and to the amazement of all
leaped to the ground.

Divining the full situation the lord daimyo quickly threw himself at the
side of his almost lifeless boy, and raising him in his arms called for
water. After reviving him, and making a hasty examination of the wound,
Maido ordered attendants to place Shibusawa in the chair and hasten with
him to his own home.



                               CHAPTER IV

                           COURSE DETERMINED


Kinsan had fortunately turned toward her companions and did not see any
of the cruelty of the officer who so hastily invoked his authority. Her
sudden exchange of glances with Shibusawa was unobserved by the rest of
the party, and as they resumed their going Kinsan continued in her
former happy mood, betraying only now and then a slight flush, or an
indifferent far-away look. Though she was deeply impressed she had not
attached any particular significance to the strange meeting, and had no
thought of its being even the second time other than accidental.

The returning procession broke line as each division passed the main
palace door, the several detachments proceeding to their separate
destinations as custom or convenience might require, and accordingly the
flower float was carried directly to the home of its chosen goddess. The
house occupied by Kinsan and her parents was a little red-lacquered
cottage which, standing at the farther end of a small garden plot, under
an overhanging cliff, and at the side of a small brook which trickled
down through the moss-covered rocks, was almost hidden from view by
flowers, tall bushes, and trailing vines. It was reached by means of a
long, narrow path, which branched off from the main roadway just inside
the last gate and below the citadel, winding its way around the
hillside, through a bit of woodland, past rocky gorges, and over a high,
lacquered bridge, terminating at the bamboo gate which stood in front.
Here Fujimoto, her father, had been permitted to live with his family
and work in the gardens all his life-time as had his father and
grandfathers for many generations before him.

Kinsan had never before been favoured with any special privileges, and
except for her rare beauty and sweet disposition she might not have been
selected to represent Asama, goddess of flowers. Though from birth her
playground had been under the shadow of the great shogun's palace she
had never before been permitted to approach him so closely, and if he
had ever even by accident spoken to her she did not remember it.
However, the proximity of her dwelling and the occupation of her father
had given her entrance to all parts of the mysterious enclosure, and in
consequence she not only was familiar with the buildings and grounds but
knew something of the habits and customs of all the household. Her
bright simplicity and pleasing manners had so impressed others that she
was well known to all of the servants and to many of the attachés, and
had become a favourite among them.

Of these there was one who more than any other took a fancy to Kinsan,
and had repeatedly expressed other than a passing interest in her. He
had watched her closely for more than two years and already several
times approached her father, offering to buy the little maiden, as he
called her, at a liberal price, to serve his convenience for the lawful
period of three years. All these proposals had been stoutly refused,
though in a measure favoured by the mother--thrifty woman--who was not
only captivated by the position of the applicant but inclined to
consider three hundred yens of more service to the family than a
doubtful daughter, especially that there were three others growing up.

Although the daughter had no right to be and never was a party to any of
these negotiations she had heard enough to convince her that however
repulsive this fellow, Tetsutaisho, might be, there was a good prospect
of her being compelled sometime to sacrifice her life to gratify his
desires. She could see but one hope, and that was in her father's love.
Her mother, poisoned as she was, had even gone so far as to entertain
the base proposal in the presence of Kinsan herself, whose innate sense
of propriety had each time prompted her to run away, with a blush of
indignation. She knew that he had been instrumental in procuring for her
the honour of that day, and yet she could not thank him, for she well
realised that it was probably by his own arrangement that he and his
detachment was placed in line next after her; not that she might thus be
honoured, but that he might gaze upon her there in her helpless
situation; for now that she had grown older and knew his intentions she
had come to regard him with something of horror, and tried as much as
she could to avoid his presence.

Whether Tetsutaisho had observed the glance of recognition which passed
between Shibusawa and Kinsan matters not, for his rank in the shogun's
army permitted him to strike down any one of the common people who dared
so much as to brush against his garment. He was a broad, sunken-chested
man, nearly six feet tall, and though less than thirty years of age wore
the uniform of a taisho (minor general) and was in fact a favourite of
the shogun's. There were a few stiff, blue-black hairs on his face as an
excuse for a beard, and a pair of small bullet eyes glanced furtively or
hung sullenly from his coarse, brutal countenance.

When Tetsutaisho struck Shibusawa he did so intending to cut him down as
an example of authority--and as a warning to others of his supposed
class--and thinking he had killed him outright with only a stroke and a
thrust he squared about and swaggered on with his chest distended and
his head thrown back.

It was a fortunate circumstance that Okyo was near at hand when
Shibusawa fell, for though the thrust was not a vital one, it was
dangerously near the heart and occasioned considerable loss of blood and
much weakness. The blow had so stunned him that he lay unconscious and
not only in the way of those marching, but subject to the cuffs and
kicks of his fellows, who were profuse in their cries of, "Shame be upon
the etas![8] He insulted his honourable superior!" However, Okyo's
faithfulness and the father's coming saved him, while proper treatment
and a vigorous constitution soon effected his complete recovery.

Nor was it any the less luck that Maido was there, for only his intense
patriotism caused the lord daimyo, in the uncertain absence of his son,
to quit his comfortable Kanazawa place and repair thus early to the
Tokyo castle. It was an unusual thing for him to take up his residence
at the capital city before late in the autumn, though in point of
elegance and diversion of thought the latter home far surpassed the
former.

This, the largest and oldest of the several daimyos' castles at Tokyo,
stood inside the second and just outside the inner moat which surrounded
the palace. The grounds were spacious, and lay to the left of the main
driveway, going toward the palace, close up against the inner moat.
Indeed, it was the choice of a gentle slope which fringed the hill,
rising on the opposite side of the moat, within the sacred enclosure
above. A high stone battlement, battered and overgrown, stood sentinel
at the water's edge, and all around giant cypress and strange foliage
told of another day. Here, in this place, was builded the official seat
of one man, a daimyo, now Maido, who was the most favoured and courted
at a shogun's court, and who commanded the wealth, the intellect, and
the aspiration of a thousand years of unbroken, unknown, and unsatisfied
progress. Its environment spoke for the present; its tombs, of the past.

To this place, with such circumstances, Shibusawa was carried, and for
the first time in his life entered there; a coming hoped and looked for,
an ambition cherished and nursed by his father until it had become his
constant dream; and yet that coming was to be when the spark of life
seemed all but dead. Maido hastened to the family shrine and there
prayed the good god Dajiza to grant him power to ward off death's evil
hand.

Shibusawa's rooms were at the upper side of the main court building (a
rambling red-lacquered structure, with curled tile roof) overlooking the
greensward and battlement, toward where Kinsan's cottage nestled in the
nearby woodland. Here he lay for a long time, battling against death,
till science and care had overcome danger, then his vigorous
constitution rapidly brought on a complete and permanent recovery. While
convalescing he would often sit chatting with his father, or dreaming of
things now fast crowding upon him: the poverty and the toil; the
suffering and the patriotism; the dormant power and the helplessness of
the people which he had everywhere seen; his own new-born love; the
ruthless force of an officer--all these were weighing heavily upon his
young conscience, which already flamed with ambition.

Shibusawa did not dwell upon these things, though, while conversing with
his father; and he asked no questions. But never before did he
understand so well the whole philosophy of his parent's teachings, nor
grasp so firmly the force of his logic and the meaning of all their
institutions. And there, and alone, while the vigour of youth yet fired
the contact of life, after the bloom of knowledge, the polish of
intercourse, the inspiration of travel, he determined his course.



                               CHAPTER V

                            THE HIDDEN CAVE


Time began, after a while, to drag heavily and Shibusawa thirsted for a
change. The day Chayo, moon festival (in the latter part of September),
had already come, and while sitting in the evening with his favourite
sister, Nehachibana, he half spoke, half meditated:

"Do you think I could go out to see the moon rise to-night? You know it
is Chayo, and I want to wander off by myself and see the 'grand three.'
It will enable me to start under a good omen. Pray come, don't say 'No,'
for I fear I shall have to go anyway."

Nehachibana had been his almost constant companion since the night of
his misfortune, and she felt nervous about his taking any undue risk now
that he was recovering so nicely. She was tall and seriously earnest,
and her counsel was invariably welcomed by her energetic brother, though
not always acted upon. Therefore she spoke with uncertain confidence
when she answered:

"It certainly is a shame to stay indoors at such a time and upon such a
night as the day promises. You are now somewhat accustomed to the open
air, and if you do not remain too long I can see no danger. I myself am
going out upon the green there, below the house, and I should be glad to
have you for company. Come join me, will you not?"

"No, thank you; I want to be alone, for once. I shall go inside the gate
to find a good lookout there, on the hillside. It is a splendid
chance--and there will not be so many sight-seers there. Few of those on
the inside engage in so light a diversion, and from the outside--well,
only those who can enter can stroll."

"Oh, Shibusawa, how can you think of venturing in there! You know it is
absolutely forbidden, and the guards may beat you down, should you try,"
said she, her voice trembling with fright.

"Have no fear, Nehachibana; I am already on more than friendly terms
with those fellows, and I assure you when once inside there is no danger
of discovery. I want to go there, where I can see and think without
molestation, and you know nothing less can rid me of my good fellow
Okyo. And then, the adventure. That will be stimulating, and I shall
tell you all about it to-morrow. There, now, let us not discuss it
further. Good-night."

Later in the evening Shibusawa, as planned, passed through the gate and
entered the august enclosure, where lived the only earthly being whom he
had been taught to revere above his own ancestry. True, the mikado[9]
had received no less a consideration, but his was of a divine character.
The one, the mikado, spiritual; the other, the shogun, material: both,
rulers supreme and eternal.

Upon entering the sacred place a mist of uncertainty seemed to envelop
him and, though there was no particular wrong in his doing so even in
such a manner, he felt as if he were unprepared, and that his presence
might profane the place. Contrary to any precedent, while entering he
chatted freely with the guards on duty and did not hesitate to disclose
his identity; nor did he in any manner attempt to deceive. His motives
were pure and his means convincing; the guards had occasion to trust
him, hence they passed him. No mention had been made of his noticeably
injured condition, for the very good reason that no questions had been
asked; and, beside his father, to whom Shibusawa had made a full
explanation, the cause and manner of his wounding remained unknown to
all, excepting himself, and possibly the man who did the striking.
Before starting he had changed his customary dress for that of an
ordinary attendant, so that had he been discovered in the grounds
anywhere not forbidden he might have been taken for a regular attaché;
especially inasmuch as he was again well tanned and somewhat rugged.

Keeping to the left as was the custom, Shibusawa strolled along the main
roadway until he came to a path which chanced to be the one leading
toward the gardener's cottage. As he walked along in that silent
mysterious dusk he had passed unnoticed several who were each on his way
to the city outside either to keep an engagement or seek diversion from
the monotony of court life. Now and then the rattling of a sword-hilt or
the clanking of steel warned him of the rank and occupation of the
passerby. A slight faintness came over him as the first sound of one had
grated upon his ears, and then his understanding changed and he felt
something of pity for the man whose only means of a livelihood seemed to
be the striking of his fellow-men.

Taking the cottage roadway he gladly, and with more leisure, plodded
along the hillside until he came to a bypath which led off to his right
and seemingly rose over a cliff farther on. The desire for adventure as
well as a better chance of being let alone prompted him to follow this
path, and as he trod upon the soft, beaten mould his sandals made no
sound save now and then an accidental rasping or the occasional rattling
of a fallen leaf. Nothing but quickened thoughts disturbed him here,
until presently he came to a rustic bridge which crossed a dancing
brooklet that faintly moaned and cried on its way. Half doubtful he
stepped upon the beaten plank, and the sound aroused from her reverie a
young maiden who stood midway on the bridge, and whom he had not until
then observed. She turned as he proceeded, and then he recognised her
and cried out:

"My honourable maiden."

Kinsan, too, had stolen away and gone there that she, also, might have
the good luck to see the moon rise in her majestic form of three. She
had been standing she knew not how long in the centre of the bridge,
with her elbows resting on the side rail and her dimpled cheeks buried
in her hands, watching and dreaming as only one of her age can, and
already there was beginning to shadow from above that mysterious, awe
inspiring grey blue which hovers between the last of twilight and the
coming of moonrise. Perhaps she also was thinking of one who had risen
in her life, yet of whom she could not hope to know. Thus startled she
did not recognise Shibusawa, nor did she attempt to move, but stood
there undecided, while he, blushing perceptibly, said in a reassuring
tone:

"I pray your forgiveness, madam, for so disturbing you. My name is
Shibusawa, and I beg of you the pleasure of knowing who you are and what
brings you here to this lovely spot at this delightful hour?"

Seeing that she hesitated as if debating what to do he continued:

"I pray you to believe me worthy, and to trust my motive, my honourable
madam."

Though Kinsan did not yet recognise her strange visitor she was not
alarmed; there was something about him that invited her confidence, and
before she realised it she had raised her eyes to his and there in the
glimmer of the starlight had experienced the same feeling which had held
her bounden since the time of their first meeting. The suddenness of the
recognition and the fulness of her soul caused her to blush, and to
stand meekly with drooping eyes and head bowed. Then she said modestly:

"I am Kinsan, the gardener's daughter. I came here to see the beautiful
moon rise, should it be so kind and I so fortunate. I do not know who
you are, but I trust and I believe you will permit me to pass without
harm. I have parents who love me, and I know you are of our faith. I
trust you, honourable sir, to speak further if you so desire."

"I thank you," said he, "for your frank expressions, and I swear by the
sword, Amanosakohoko, that I shall endeavour to merit your confidence.
May I not spread this robe so that we can sit, and further speak to each
other while waiting the moon's pleasure?"

"You may do so if you like, but I should tell you that it is unsafe
unless you have permission from a better authority. There is one who
sometimes passes here, and should he discover you I fear his cruelty
might be no less severe than my interest is great. If you do not mind a
short, steep climb I will lead the way to a secluded spot near by where
we can get a still better view and also guard against being seen. I was
just going there, and no one will miss me at home until the hour has
gone. Shall I proceed?"

"I certainly shall be glad to trust myself to your guidance, and if it
is not too hard for you to go there it ought not to be for me."

"You see," said Kinsan, as she led the way back across the bridge and
began climbing the hill above, "there is no pathway to follow. That is
because no one but myself ever goes there, and I take pains not to
establish a road and thus provide the means to a discovery of my hidden
place."

After leaving the by-path they scrambled up with some difficulty over
the embankment and through a brier patch into the woodland beyond.
Hereafter their passage through the scattering trees was quite easy,
except the long grass and sloping hill made it necessary for them to
choose well their steps, and as they went they chatted with no concern
or accident to mar their pleasures or stay the confidence that was so
rapidly growing between them. The balmy air, the inviting scenery, the
romantic occasion, all inspired those feelings of trust which come of
more than understanding and which are never abused.

Once Kinsan slipped a little and threw out her arms to recover her
balance. As if by instinct Shibusawa was at her side and caught her hand
in his just in time to save a fall; the soft skin told him of her good
breeding, and the warm blood of her perfect health. He held it gently, a
little longer, perhaps, than necessary to stay her fall, and then he did
not drop it nor did she take it away, but as if moved by an unseen power
and with feelings sweeter than life itself started on, and Kinsan did
not fall or lose her balance again that night.

"Oh, what a grand place it is!" said he, as she led him to a seat on one
side looking out over a panorama of woodland and battlement and castle
ground and city far away toward the rising moon.

The place to which Kinsan led captive was an old abandoned nook, which
had centuries before been used as a sight-seeing retreat by no less a
personage than the shogun himself. It lay far up on the hillside in a
small level space that rounded out at the head of a miniature gulch,
through which ran the rivulet spanned by the bridge where the lovers
met. The site, now dry and hard, was once the source of a natural
spring, which had long ago disappeared through a tunnel made farther
down the declivity. It was an ideal place for a hidden cave, such as it
really appeared to be and as Kinsan called it; and the shogun under
whose direction it was improved had spared no expense to make it a place
of beauty as well as seclusion.

A retaining wall at the back,--in which were constructed wide and
comfortable stone seats,--rounded up at both corners and arched over in
front, while trees and vines had been so planted here and there as to
shade the sun or break the storm, without in any manner obstructing the
view. Some of these giant trees still stood, marking the grandeur of a
different age. Others had fallen and long ago disappeared, while vines
and shrubs had grown and regrown into tangled gnarls of brush and brier.
All trace of its once gravelled approach and smooth floor had vanished
with age, and no other person now found his way there except by merest
chance or a curious reverence.

Kinsan was the cave's only regular visitor and, jealously, she took
every precaution to avoid attracting any attention to it. Unlike her
sisters and her girl friends she wanted some place to which she could go
and be by herself, and there indulge in that freedom which made her so
different from others as well as the envy of all who knew her. She had
with her own hands cleared the place of briers and fallen debris, and
had carried straw and mats there to cover and make more comfortable a
seat. Why, she did not know, but she loved different things from those
which pleased the people whom she knew, and at times she longed to
breathe a different atmosphere and to think new thoughts and experience
other feelings. And now that this queer little house of hers contained
another--one in whom all her sentiments seemed to enliven and to
crystallise--her heart filled and there rose within her a new being,
whose love and innocence and purity and sweetness shone forth like a
flood-light of truth.

Shibusawa, too, felt the irresistible oncoming of that new life which
had taken hold of him the first time he saw Kinsan; nor did he try to
dissuade it, for in it he saw and felt the force of nature, the power of
Infinity.

They sat there and talked and thought of things that were sweet and dear
to them. Only once were they disturbed, and that was shortly after they
had gone there and while they were sitting and dreaming as only true
lovers can. It was just when the light and dark seemed most uncertain
and everything mysteriously told of a parting and welcomed an oncoming.
A cloud lazily floated overhead, turning its golden fringe into a border
of silver. Not a leaf rustled or a note sounded on the hollow air. Not
even they seemed conscious of another living thing, when out of the
stillness there came the unmistakable sound of a man walking rapidly in
a silk kimono.

"Swish, swish, swish," continued grating upon Shibusawa's ear, each time
more distinct, and he half rose to his feet as if ready to bound upon an
enemy. Kinsan caught hold of his kimono and whispered:

"Do not be disturbed. I have heard it before, and I can tell from the
sound just who it is and about where he is walking: he is now on the
by-path not far from the bridge where we last met. If he turns this way
I shall warn you in time so that we can hide in a secret place I have
found out just above this. It is easy of access, and he never could find
us there. It is grown over with an old wisteria and is out of reach of
that one, I am sure."

The man in the by-path continued to walk briskly along, keeping a close
watch on either side. He seemed to be quite nervous and anxious, though
he moved with determination and evinced a fixed purpose. His course led
him around the gulch so far below, and they were so hidden behind the
trees, that they were seldom exposed to his view, yet they themselves
could see and distinguish even the features of any person well impressed
upon the memory. The intruder did not pause until he had reached the
footbridge, where only a short time before Shibusawa and Kinsan had met,
and then he stopped and looked as if expecting to see someone. Once he
stared momentarily straight toward the cave, and had he been aware of
such a place he might have distinguished the two sitting there only
partially shielded by the bushes. Shibusawa as it was had the advantage,
and looked the stranger directly in the face. He trembled, then leaned
forward and stared intently.

"Pray do not be alarmed," said Kinsan, in a low voice, already divining
his keen interest. "Even though he see us and should come this way we
are yet safe. My hiding-place will not fail me."

"If I mistake not," answered Shibusawa, "we shall have no need for
hiding--I have at least a more satisfactory thought."

"Oh, no, honourable sir, we must not be seen by him!" said Kinsan,
nervously. "He is such a terrible man; and very powerful and brave, they
say. If he should discover me here, and at this hour, and in the company
of a man--oh, how late it is getting! I think I must be going."

"Then you know him, do you?" asked Shibusawa, quickly and interestedly,
though speaking in an undertone.

"Oh, yes; I know him well," said she, without any hesitancy.

"And he is seeking you here? and now? I shall meet him forthwith."

"Yes, he often does, and I am so glad--"

"Aha, and I am so nicely trapped!" said he, meditatively.

She did not answer him, for the reason that she did not understand him,
and without so doing there was no occasion for an answer. He said
nothing, but sat for the moment alternating between rage and jealousy.
He looked at the burly form on the bridge, then at Kinsan. He thought of
his love, then of his wounding. He at first determined to accuse her and
fly at his antagonist, but afterwards reasoned that there was nothing to
be gained by haste, and also that possibly he might be misinformed, if
not entirely wrong.

Their visitor soon turned around, his back toward them, and as if
disappointed at the prospect hung himself upon the bridge rail and
stared vacantly at the distant horizon. Presently he straightened up and
slowly walked away; and not until he had entirely gone did either
Shibusawa or Kinsan speak; nor would they yet have resumed talking had
Shibusawa been the first to begin. He still pondered a doubt about the
real circumstance, though his faith in Kinsan strengthened as he himself
recovered.

"I am so glad he has gone away. Oh, if he would only not come back! Did
he frighten you much?" said she, her voice betraying her anxiety.

"I cannot say that I was so much as frightened, though I feel better now
that he has gone," said he, evasively. "Why, Kinsan, you do look
pleased, and I really believe you, too, are glad to be rid of him. It is
unfortunate that he came just at this time--I wonder if my being here
influenced his coming? Still, I hardly believe it could have done so,
because I do not even know his name, much less does he know me."

"Oh, no. That was Tetsutaisho, an officer in the shogun's army," said
Kinsan, assuringly and without divining Shibusawa's purpose, "and I am
certain it was not because you were here that he came. And I am so glad
that you are here! I am lonely when I sit here by myself, and now--you
will come again, will you not?"

Shibusawa did not answer her at once, but turned and looked, and her
soft true eyes looked into his, and he saw how cruel he had been to let
suspicion enter his heart and how unworthy of her confidence he had
been. Then all his manhood rose and his thoughts became pure and his
feelings true, and his courage spoke as he said:

"Yes."

The moon had risen, and--how could they have seen it other than as it
was, a good omen? for they two and it made three.



                               CHAPTER VI

                               THE PLEDGE


Shibusawa and Kinsan sat in their place and gazed at the beautiful moon
as it rose, now unfolding a deeper meaning, teaching a sweeter lesson.
Chayo was no longer to them only a mystic rite, but a living, eternal
symbol of life's greatest joy, and when they had seen all and felt its
power they arose and parted, true to themselves and pleased with their
good fortune. Shibusawa, though, returned to his house fully aware of
the responsibilities which he had assumed and deeply impressed with
their probable consequences; yet he realised that the circumstances
which had brought about this irresistible situation were conceived
directly within his own heart, and that he could not and should not
escape their natural and just conclusion. He loved Kinsan, and, whether
right or wrong in that love, he must know a higher virtue before he
could in justice to himself surrender what seemed to him purely a
liberty of conscience.

Nor would his love be unrequited, for he saw in Kinsan the same unknown
force which had moved him and held him its willing victim. She too was a
slave to its inevitable decree, and now that they had witnessed in each
other that repose of confidence necessary to a perfect understanding, he
must not let love, a higher purpose, fail at the bidding of family or
state, nor allow himself to halt in his proper pursuit at the voice of
tradition or, said he:

"Even by the law's decree; for after all, 'Is law higher than our
understanding?'"

Having decided not to swerve from his course Shibusawa began to plan the
means whereby he could meet Kinsan and be with her as much as prudence
would allow. He longed to be near her and to share with her his thoughts
and gain her approval, but in doing so he must encounter many hardships
and much danger. Both statute and custom bade him marry the woman
selected only by his parents, and to woo any other and in such a manner
was deemed a most serious breach, subject to a severe penalty. He needs
must, therefore, employ strategy, for there was no other means of
meeting Kinsan, and even that could never make her his wife. The laws of
his country were rigid, and his parents, like others, inexorable on that
subject; and Shibusawa was not unmindful of either, nor of his duty
toward society; yet he was undaunted, and could see no wrong in his
loving the woman of his choice, so long as that one brought neither
disgrace to his family nor failure to himself; neither of which was
probable from his way of thinking--and had he a right to think? That was
one of the questions which had determined Shibusawa's course, and it now
became a burning factor in his life.

The hidden cave was their rendezvous, and Kinsan grew to live for the
happiness its welcome shelter gave. There, the sweet voice of love
whispered and rewhispered the new song that soothed and quickened and
held her captive, for Shibusawa came faithfully and constantly, each
recurring visit deepening his love, every serious obstacle strengthening
his determination.

Time passed quickly and each returning season lent anew its never dying
symbol, for to them autumn's master flower, the chrysanthemum, meant in
truth loyalty, sincerity, and earnestness. When these days had passed
and winter come Shibusawa sang to her the song of the pine and its
fidelity, the bamboo and its elasticity, the plum and its courage,
vigour, and reputation. Then spring brought in its train the cherry, the
peach, the pear, the primrose, the peony, the wisteria, each in turn
adding its voice, for the cave stood in the midst of bloom, everywhere
doing its part in the beautiful fulfilment of a divine promise.

Yes, spring had come and with it the budding and the joy of creation. It
was now April, the day of the cherry blossom, and the sun had gone down
behind the hills and the stars were twinkling their story. Two lovers
sat close together--the one ambitious, courageous; the other obedient,
loyal--both joyous, but earnest. Her hand rested in his and he bent over
and whispered:

"Kinsan, I love you. I love you with a heart that is pure and true. I
love you with all my life, my soul voices it. I think of you always--the
one constant thought of my life--my hope, my happiness, my existence.
Speak, Kinsan, speak and tell me that this is not a hopeless fancy. Tell
me that you love me. Tell me that you will be my wife, my love, my
sweetheart, my all."

She leaned forward and laid her rosy cheek upon his bosom, and with her
eyes softly upturned she whispered:

"Yes."

He stooped down and kissed her, and in the warmth of those lips she saw
a world of joys; he, the beginning of earnest life. The kiss was unknown
to them, but it came as the spontaneous outpouring of a true affection,
the token of a master passion; and in that embrace there dawned a new
light, the opening of another world.



                              CHAPTER VII

                         AN UNEXPECTED COMMAND


While Shibusawa had been constant and true in his attentions he had
never apprised Kinsan of his real position, nor of the difficulties
which stood in the way of their marriage. That he was worthy there could
be no doubt in her mind, and she only knew that she loved him--loved him
as they were and with no thought of what might or would befall them.
Instinct was enough to keep both from mentioning their affairs to any
others, for such a thing as mutual regard was by right or practice
unknown in the land; hence must have been deemed improper, especially by
the parents, and there were no others to whom they could or should
confide their secrets. Whether allowable or not, and without any real
knowledge of the consequences, their love had grown and manifested
itself in its own mysterious way, and they were destined as they were to
meet an uncertain fate.

Very wisely Shibusawa had not in the meantime neglected any of his
proper relations at home, but on the contrary entered into life with an
earnestness that was not only to his father, but to others of the family
and to his friends, a great source of joy. Whether at the Koyo-odori
(maple dance for girls), or at the New Year's feast, or at any of the
many fêtes of the season, his interest was equally keen and his presence
always sought. Nor did he neglect his personal improvement, for all of
his time and energy not devoted to Kinsan and his social duties were
expended in an orderly quest for knowledge; not of a theoretical nature,
but of that practical, satisfying kind that, whether for good or for
ill, moves the world.

Maido had observed with keen interest all these healthy activities of
his son and was proud of his achievements and offered him every
encouragement within his power. No particular attention had been paid to
Shibusawa's future other than properly to fit him for the place destined
for him, and such a thing as the young prince's marriage had never
seriously entered his father's mind. Since the birth of his rising
successor Maido had always hoped to avoid the necessity of sometime
being compelled to sacrifice his son's or his own happiness to gratify
the pleasure or convenience of the court, though he might at any time
have been prompted to do as much by an extreme test of loyalty. As far
as the lord daimyo's own interests were concerned there had as yet
appeared no need for matrimonial alliances of any kind, and not until
political discontent began to arise in the south had he been called upon
to concern himself particularly about outside affairs. He had personally
held aloof from all entangling alliances, and aside from his duties at
court devoted himself to the upbuilding and preservation of his own
prefecture, which was now so strong and prosperous that it could
reasonably be expected to stand of its own accord.

There was the best of feeling and good content everywhere at home, and
when there Maido himself might at any time be seen among his workmen
encouraging thrift and economy, while all of the new ideas were
regularly taught by learned instructors. As a result his people had
become the most skilled and industrious in the land, excelling in the
production of rice, silk, lacquer rugs, matting, bronzes, pottery,
steel, and implements of husbandry and articles for ornamentation.

Therefore Maido was one of the most powerful as he was resourceful of
the shogun's daimyos and had wisely looked askance at the petty quarrels
and fierce rebellions that were constantly devastating other parts of
the country and robbing them of their treasure. Still he did not neglect
to cultivate a true martial spirit, nor to maintain an army in keeping
with the country's dignity; which, owing to the mountainous approaches
at the east and south, and to the broad open sea and rocky shores of the
west and north, was as against an invading foe easily defended. These
natural barriers having been seized upon early after the beginning of
the shogunate and from time to time fortified, Maido had but to keep
them in repair and refrain from interfering with outside affairs in
order to induce the powerful armies of the north and south, while
marching against each other, to pass him by unmolested. In consequence
his vassals--secure in their peace, in plenty, sure of kind and liberal
treatment, their religion inviolate and their customs well
established--were quite content to labour faithfully for the promotion
of their daimyo's comfort and power. He was at the same time the most
respected and envied personage at court, and even the shogun himself
found it both agreeable and advantageous to cultivate his friendship.

This pleasing situation, however, was not long to continue, for the
outgrowth of Maido's wisdom, and his abundance at home, made him the
more coveted at Tokyo; and now that hostilities were assuming proportion
in the south, the necessity for new expedients was fast crowding upon
the northern party. To Iyeyoshi, the over-fed, easy-going shogun, these
matters were rather irksome and in consequence were being more and more
turned over to the newly appointed prime minister, the young and
restless Ikamon. The shogun was satisfied; Ikamon, ambitious.

The latter had risen from the lower ranks by dint of his own exertions,
and his career was as unbounded as it was unbridled. In presence he was
pinched and bony, stoop shouldered, of peaked face, had eagle eyes,
rather sparse, stiff black hair, and for strength of mind displayed a
wonderful mixture of cunning and craft. He had already formed a personal
alliance with Maido (which materially strengthened him at court and
directly helped him into his present position) by taking in marriage
Yasuko, the daimyo's second daughter; and now ostensibly as a state
measure, but in reality to further Ikamon's personal schemes, Shibusawa
was urgently brought forward as a likely match for Takara, a rising
member of the royalty, and a daughter of the mikado himself.

When the proposal was first made, Maido paid but little heed to it,
passing it by as one of his son-in-law's many visionary schemes; in the
majority of which he had not much confidence and as yet less concern. He
had intended to govern himself in this matter, when the proper time
came, as he had in all others, as best conserved his own interests and
the happiness of his son. That any one dared to interfere with what he
considered his and his family's private affair had not seriously dawned
upon his mind, and was this time looked upon as a piece of ill-advised
impertinence.

In time, however, the over-confident daimyo discovered his mistake, for
Ikamon persisted and before long had enlisted the support of a higher
influence, one that presently assumed the shape of an urgent request, if
not command. Such an alliance, once proposed, was not in times of stress
to be overlooked even by the shogun, and Maido soon found himself
entangled with a problem that was to bring his son face to face with the
queenly and much coveted Takara.

Though only the daughter by a favourite concubine, this beautiful
princess was much loved by Komei, the mikado, and it was conceded that
whoever gained her hand would not only gain his royal highness' favour,
but strengthen his position at the Kyoto court. She was tall and
slender, not yet twenty years of age, had bright, tender eyes, a soft,
clear skin, and silken hair as dark as the raven. Her manner was that of
grace and distinction, her speech calm and deliberate, while at court
and among her friends she was regarded with almost reverence.
Daikomitsu, a rising young prince and staunch supporter of the southern
party, had already sought her hand in marriage, and withal, aside from
any political considerations, she might have been thought eminently
fitted to become the wife even of a Maido's successor.

It was with different considerations, though, that Ikamon urged the
suit. He knew of no demand except that of policy, and now that he was in
a position effectively to reach both sides he hastened the business as
much as he consistently could. The mikado was, notwithstanding the
advice of his counsellors, still in favour of peace, and thus he lent a
ready ear to any proposal that might be reasonably expected to calm the
disturbance and ward off a final conflict. His daughter, having grown to
womanhood within the palace and its traditional and superstitious
atmosphere, knew nothing of the profane world and was possessed of a
loyalty that carried her far over into the sweep of ancestral worship.
She believed that her only province was to serve, and that of right she
should be handed from father to husband, from the one family to the
other. Her birth seemed but a necessity, her life a sacrifice, and her
death only a natural consequence--why should she look or think or hope
beyond? She offered no protest when told of her lot--that she must yield
her all unto a stranger--but bowed in grateful submission at the command
of an unquestioned fate. She promised her father, and he was pleased,
and hastened to inform the shogun.

Maido as yet had said nothing to Shibusawa about his prospective
marriage, though he himself had been fully convinced that there was no
possible way for him to avoid its final consummation without as a last
resort breaking faith with the shogun: a thing entirely beyond the pale
of his moral rectitude. He had from time to time avoided the subject,
trusting that some failure at Kyoto might save him the necessity, but
now that the mikado had favourably responded and the shogun positively
commanded, all hope was dissipated.

He therefore called his son to him and led him into the great chamber,
where he bade him be seated at his side. It was in the evening, and
Maido had just returned flushed and heated from an animated council, and
he chose the open side of the room, where they sat facing each other and
alone. A warm breeze floated in from the garden, and the air seemed to
Shibusawa almost as sweet with cherry blossom as it had the day before
while sitting with Kinsan at the hidden cave. He realised that some
grave question disturbed his parent, but little thought that he himself
was the victim of a prearranged plan that should augur so uncertain a
future. He would have spoken, but his father beckoned him be silent;
then himself spoke distinctly, telling him of what he was expected to
do, and waited for an answer.

There was no mistaking the meaning, yet Shibusawa sat in silence; he was
for the moment dazed and unable to make any answer. After the first
flush he resolved upon throwing himself at his father's feet and
explaining all; to ask forgiveness for what he had done, and beg
indulgence for what his life seemed pledged to do, but prudence bade him
not. He knew only too well that such a thing was impossible. Maido's
anxiety doubled with each succeeding moment, until finally surprise,
then fear, moved him and his voice trembled as he said:

"Shibusawa, my son, have you no ears?"

"I hear you, father, and I assure you it is my weakness and not the
answer that makes me slow. I would frame you a better speech than the
one I have in mind."

"Hold, my boy! I know your answer. And, besides, I would rather you save
your words for a higher purpose. This old self of mine is satisfied that
you do the thing. That is it. Oshaka! Oshaka! good god of self, forbid
that I hear, let me only feel a father's blessing and a son's
forgiveness. Come, my good son, your liberal indulgence of me and your
ready acceptance of her has removed from me the greatest concern of my
life. A long one, and a happy one--hah! h-a-h! h--a--h!"

Maido's eyes flashed dry and hot as he sat there swinging his powerful
frame back and forth to the rhythm of his parched words. Shibusawa knelt
quickly at his father's side and steadied and soothed him. The long
white locks parted and fell from his splendid brow, and in an instant
the son's whole soul went out to the one who had given him being and had
showered upon him a constant devotion.

The lord daimyo went to sleep presently, and Shibusawa sat for a long
time, debating the consequences of this new and unexpected situation. It
was only yesterday that he had pledged himself to the one he loved, and
now he was bound by every tradition and law to break that engagement and
perform a duty. Had this sudden mandate come only a day sooner his
honour, at least, might have been saved; but to sacrifice that was more
than he could do. Filial affection--but was there not a higher purpose,
and if so why not devote his life to its fulfilment? He pondered, then
said to himself:

"Although I uphold the traditions of our religion, maintain the honour
of my family, and obey the command of the shogun, I can and will be true
to Kinsan."



                              CHAPTER VIII

                         THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY


When Shibusawa arose the next morning, he set about with a heavy heart
to plan some course of action. He had not slept much during the night,
and with a clouded atmosphere the morning was dull, so he remained in
the garden but a short time, returning to his now cold and dreary
chamber.

At first he planned to hurry to Kinsan and tell her the truth and beg
her forgiveness; then he realised the impossibility of doing so; the
gates were closed to him, and his strategy would not avail him in the
daytime. He rightly divined his father's helplessness, and knew that an
appeal to the court would fall upon deaf ears. The law was inexorable,
and those in authority would use it, as they were using him, to further
their own schemes. To fly was worse than hopeless, and to disclose the
identity of his love would surely bring death if not torture to her.
Such were some of the conditions confronting Shibusawa, and with which
he must struggle.

Ikamon was fully advised of the rapidly rising influence of the
literary, or southern party, at the mikado's, or royal court, and he
hastened that no time be lost in using this last measure to check its
growth. The banns were accordingly that day published at Tokyo, and the
marriage proclaimed to take place at the earliest possible day in May,
the month following; while messengers were despatched to Kyoto with the
intelligence, so that Takara might make ready and repair to her intended
father-in-law's seat at the shogun's capital city.

During the interval of waiting the busy prime minister more than ever
bestirred himself with making preparations for the ceremony. Maido was
pushed to one side and his natural prerogatives usurped by his
son-in-law, Ikamon, who, without much regard to rank, invited everybody
whom he thought could in any way further his own political chances and
incidentally those of his party. Thus Tetsutaisho was included among the
selected guests, for in him more than any other Ikamon saw a future
powerful weapon.

This young officer was rapidly advancing in favour, and Ikamon reasoned
that his chances of being placed at the head of the shogun's army,
already good, would be effectually strengthened by an alliance with the
powerful house of Maido. There was the good and handsome Nehachibana,
Maido's daughter and Shibusawa's favourite--why not offer her to
Tetsutaisho? With Tetsutaisho, his ready confidant, securely in command
of the northern army, his alliance with the royal court established
through Shibusawa's marriage, he had designed a still more sweeping
stroke, that of tricking the mikadate into a tacit coalition of the two
armies, the north and the south, with Tetsutaisho as the recognised head
of both. Ikamon believed that in such a situation he could effectually
put down any local disaffection, gradually dissipate the mikadate, and
eventually establish the shogunate as the sole, supreme authority in the
land.

His plan was a vital one, and there seemed to be no real obstacle in
the way of its final consummation. Tetsutaisho had already looked
upon Nehachibana with a sordid eye; she was young and vivacious--that
was enough for him. Shibusawa was now perceptibly occupied with his
own troubles, and should readily fall a victim to the magic of
a royal court. Maido was rapidly approaching a certain state of
senility--possibly apparent to none but his covetous son-in-law--and
could no longer offer any serious resistance. There was no further
chance for a misalliance in the family, no moral gulf between the driver
and the goal, so Ikamon devised and the wedding day found him easily
prepared.

When that day had arrived and the guests were assembled, a
dust-bedraggled train of carriers and attendants came filing up the
roadway to the front of Maido's castle, where they halted and demanded
entrance in the name of Takara, daughter of Komei, the divine mikado.
Upon the conclusion of this short ceremony the party was passed through
the gate to the house door, where the bride was delivered into the care
of Ikamon and Yasuko, his wife, who bade her welcome after the fashion
of another polite ceremony. Takara wore a flowing kimono of soft white
material, and now that she had entered the house of her future husband
she forthwith retired and changed her dress for one provided by the
bridegroom. Having thus completed her toilet she was escorted to the
chamber of state by Yasuko, while Ikamon attended Shibusawa.

Takara meekly entered, and as she did so the sound of many voices and
much merry-making greeted her; the guests were assembled in a room
adjoining, waiting for the conclusion of the ceremony and the beginning
of the feast. Shibusawa then came forward, betraying only a slight
colour, and Takara humbly bowed recognition; he bowed and motioned her
to a mat at his side. They had met, and for the first time looked into
the mirror of each other's life. The two-lipped cup was offered by
Haraku, the bride's maid-servant, and Takara moistened her lips
therefrom, then passed it to the bridegroom, who in turn drank a
draught, and passed it back to her. Thrice three times they did this,
and the ceremony was complete.

    [Illustration: The two-lipped cup was offered.... Takara
    moistened her lips therefrom, then passed it to the bridegroom.]

Without any further ado the bride again retired and changed her light
kimono for a coloured one of her own providing. In her absence the
sliding partitions had been removed, and when she returned she found
herself in the midst of the merry guests, who crowded about to offer
their congratulations.

Shibusawa appeared to be deeply impressed with the formal part of the
ceremony, but after that was concluded he showed an indifferent feeling,
and had it not been for the state character of the doing, there might
have seemed to be even less cordiality. Ikamon, of course, outdid
himself, particularly in an effort to impress the bride with his own
importance, and his squeaking voice and glancing eyes were everywhere in
evidence. Tetsutaisho was also pleased and, at first sight of the bride,
became so infatuated that she did not thereafter lack attention: an
unadvised observer might even have taken him to be the bridegroom.

This gallant young officer naturally was charmed with Nehachibana upon
his arrival and introduction early in the evening, and certainly would
have continued his attentions had she been the last to come upon the
scene. As it was, and as he was unable to divide his gallantry between
two, Takara received his favours after their first meeting, which,
strange to say, seemed mutually agreeable. On the other hand,
Nehachibana had been not unfavourably impressed with Tetsutaisho, and
were it not that Takara was now her sister-in-law she might have been a
little jealous. Shibusawa, however, consoled her with more than his
usual ardour, and he may not have neglected to express in some measure
his opinion of the would-be seducer. At all events, he was under the
circumstances perfectly willing that the latter should make haste with
his wife rather than with his sister. Nor did he disclose the cause of
his indifference about the one and his coldness toward the other,
because he felt that he had best let events take their own course,
especially that the position of both would save either from bringing
disgrace into his family.

"I do not mind saying," said he to his sister, as they sat quietly
together, "that I am not at all pleased with Tetsutaisho's appearance.
More I do not care to venture."

"But he is so large and so heroic," answered Nehachibana. "Do not such
men fight fiercely? And have they not warm hearts? And are they not
chivalrous? But he does not seem to care for me. Only Takara has saved
him from being bored."

"Such men are neither bored nor saved. They are incapable of the one and
beyond hope of the other," replied Shibusawa, mindful of his own
experience.

"I trust so," mused she, thoughtfully.

"And I am--well, except for you, indifferent as to the whole affair,"
said he, as he arose and went toward Takara.

Shibusawa soon returned to his sister, and bowing himself away from her
retired from the company, going with the full consciousness of having
acquitted himself as best he could under the circumstances. Perhaps, as
he lingered on the veranda above, he did not think of Kinsan, more
likely he did not notice particularly the group of sight-seers in the
road at the front of the house, but if he had, he might have seen her
there, and have observed that her eyes were filled with tears; that she
trembled a little and that suspicion was trying hard to enter her heart.
He did not distinguish her, however, but turned and went into his own
chamber and was seen no more that night.

Kinsan, though, had recognised him, and when he had gone she too turned
and stole away toward her house as silently as she had come, but with a
heavy heart and uncertain step.

From the time Kinsan had first heard of the intended wedding, something
told her that she must go there. True, she had no reason for believing
that the Shibusawa to whom she had given her love was a prince, or that
he could possibly be the suitor of Takara, the mikado's daughter; yet a
power not explained moved her to go, and opportunity enabled her to see
only too much. She had seen him there, and in that she surmised an
insurmountable gulf between them, and felt that he in such a station,
however true, must be lost to her. She went home and with an aching
heart prayed for future light and strength.



                               CHAPTER IX

                           THE WEDDING FEAST


On the third day after the wedding, all preparations having been made,
the newly wedded couple started upon their bridal tour to the home of
the bride's parents. This was no small undertaking, and to any other
than a bride it would have seemed decidedly unpleasant. The only means
of transit was by chair, and, as she had just been borne over the same
route and had in prospect a speedy return, Takara might well have
complained of the three long journeys, if not of custom.

Upon coming to the wedding ceremony the bride had brought with her a
large number of useful and costly presents, and, as might be expected,
the family of the bridegroom had been exceedingly liberal in bestowing a
return compliment. Maido had spared neither pains nor expense to laden
Shibusawa's train with tokens of his appreciation, and as squad after
squad of carriers passed out at the front gate the gathering onlookers
cheered with something like frenzy. It was, therefore, late in the
morning before the last of the baggage had passed and the way was made
clear for Shibusawa's chair, and as he came forward there arose a mighty
shout of "Long live the prince." Early in the day the kaika (household
treasurer), acting under Ikamon's instructions, had begun distributing
coins among the hangers-on, and now that the noble suite was passing a
perfect shower of "cash" was thrown upon them. No other means could so
readily call forth their hearty applause, and Ikamon was gratified and
Maido perhaps pleased, if Shibusawa was entirely unconcerned.

As Shibusawa's chair swung into the roadway he drew back the curtain and
looked out at the excited throng. There was one who stood, amid all this
noise, with a strained, eager expression. It was Kinsan; and Shibusawa,
looking straight into her face, without offering to recognise her,
closed the curtain and continued his way. Probably she knew as well as
he that the least sign of recognition on his part might, if detected,
bring horrible punishment, or even death to her. Possibly she believed
him cruel. Whatever her thoughts may have been, she felt crushed and
forlorn. She knew now that it was only too true; that her heart was
broken and her life for ever shadowed.

Kinsan had gone there again to determine if possible the truth or
falsity of her former conviction. Without any consciousness she had done
her hair in the prettiest fashion and dressed in her very best kimono,
and so anxious was she that before the sun had barely risen she began
planning to go. The fresh air and the excitement brought the colour to
her cheeks, and when Tetsutaisho chanced to pass her, on his way to wish
Takara a safe journey and a speedy return, he stopped and spoke to her
and chided her for being so far from home. She made no answer, but his
kindly attention lingered on her mind, and possibly she may have
contrasted this with Shibusawa's greeting.

However, Kinsan was not so ready to heed the one or condemn the other,
and with a determination stronger than ever she proceeded on her way
home. She had not gone far, though, before she was overtaken by
Tetsutaisho, who hastened to her and said:

"Which way are you going now, my pretty young lady?"

Kinsan started at the sound of his voice, and when she turned about and
saw who it was, she blushed deeply, then grew pale. She made no
immediate answer, but stood debating in her own mind what she had best
do; and as she made no offer to move he became emboldened, and, coming
closer, began to talk in a confidential manner:

"Come, my sweet little girl, come with me and sit in the shade over
there, where it is quiet and out of reach of the curious."

"I thank you, honourable sir, I am on the way to my house and I wish not
to delay, for that would be improper. Please, sir, excuse me--my mother
has said nothing about this proposal."

"But," said he, "I will pay the mother. I will double and treble the
price. Come with me now. My bungalow is large and you shall share the
privileged mat. I am rich and my station is high. I will free your
father and mother from all their debts and make them comfortable and
happy. Come, now; what more can be done? Is not all this worth the
while?"

Kinsan listened to all he said. She measured well his proposals and
thought of the ease and comfort it would bring to her parents.

She also remembered that look of Shibusawa's and how her heart had
failed her; and then her love for him began to reassert itself, and she
turned upon her enticer and scorned him, and without saying another word
walked rapidly away.

After Shibusawa had so coldly turned from Kinsan, while passing through
the gate and into the roadway, he sank back in his chair, stunned and
fearful. The shock had overcome him, and he did not recover until he had
gone far beyond her reach. It was only a glance, yet he now appreciated
the force with which that must have stricken Kinsan. While, as he well
knew, there could have been no escaping the consequences of an overt
act, nevertheless, had he done no more he might in some way have sought
Kinsan and explained to her the true circumstances of his situation. And
now that he had not done so, and fully realised the sad mistake, it was
only with much self-control that he held himself from attempting to
return to her.

Nothing further marked his progress, and the visit at Kyoto was a great
success in spite of Shibusawa's preoccupied state of mind. His reserve
gave him an air of dignity and charm of manner that surprised and
pleased the too much coddled mikado, who could not help admiring the
young man's strong, athletic build and evenly balanced temperament. Here
at last was one who frowned upon frivolity and seemed to exemplify real
manhood; who aimed at something above sordid pleasure.

Takara, too, was proud of her husband, and had already begun to look up
to him and to feel the force of his character. Yet something she had
hoped and longed for was missing. All her maiden life she had dreamed of
this one sweet satisfying thing, and it was still an unrealised thought.

They did not remain at Kyoto longer than etiquette required, though in
that time Shibusawa saw something of the life and manners at the royal
abode. He came in contact with not only the immediate members of the
family but some of the mikado's most intimate advisers and a multitude
of his well-paid admirers, and therefrom formed some notion of the
prodigality if not unwisdom of such a duplicity of government. Returning
they went by way of Kanazawa, where Takara was very much impressed with
the magnificence of her father-in-law's estates, the prospective seat of
her husband's future empire.

"Oh, what a beautiful place, and such a grand scene!" said she, with
rapture, as they approached the family mansion at the summit of the
hill. "And the lovely breeze, and the stately pines, and all the
beautiful things which Kami has given us--here you will be my lover, and
I, oh, how I shall love you! Yes, I will love you, love you, oh, so
much!"

Shibusawa did not answer, but for the first time recognised her full
nature, and presaged the consequence of his failure. Nor did he venture
to speak and in some measure unfold the true state of his feelings until
the day before their final departure for Tokyo. She had waited for him
and longed for him, and now somewhat of despair if not disgust had taken
hold of her. They were sitting side by side on the matted floor, and
from the open side could see afar over the wind-tossed deep or out at
the timbered hills looming in the background.

"Takara," said he, after a long silence, "you are a patient, noble
woman. You deserve a better appreciation than I can give you. Our
connection is the result of a false tradition, a perverted truth.
Ambition is the sponsor and necessity the maker of this cruel situation,
and in order that we may not suffer therefrom let us be wise."

With the first sound of Shibusawa's voice Takara brightened with
encouragement, but as he proceeded her ardour cooled; and when she came
to measure him in the light of a starved sensibility there dawned upon
her a full appreciation of their true relation, though she did not
hasten to answer nor did she shrink in the least from him. She only sat
toying with a loose obi (sash); finally it occurred to her to speak, and
she said with a sigh:

"Shibusawa, you just now made me happy, when for the first time you
spoke my name. Though only a short happiness, it momentarily filled me
with the pride that comes not of unchaste wedlock. It would have
satisfied me to feel that you knew this if nothing more. It is a little
thing, yet a priceless jewel in the crown of perfect womanhood. This
privilege is denied me and a more convenient one granted. Sorrow is my
reward; wisdom could have served me no worse."

Nothing further was said to mar the pleasure of their visit at Kanazawa
or the remainder of the journey, and when they had safely arrived at
Tokyo they found themselves in a mood to enjoy a brief interval of rest
before the giving of the grand final entertainment. This sumptuous
affair was supposed to be given under the immediate auspices of the
contracting parties themselves, but in this case it had been made the
special business of the redoubtable Ikamon. And so well did he manage
that Maido indulged a lavish generosity, and even the shogun expressed a
sincere appreciation. Invitations had been issued to all of the shogun's
court and the royal court, and to such of the nobility as were in
sympathy or could in any manner be accounted influential or desirable.
An effort was made to bring together all the dignitaries and supporters
of state as well as the beauty and fashion of the land; to inaugurate a
better understanding between the two parties and bring as far as
possible the malcontented literati under the influence of the shogun;
and, of course, incidentally, to advance Ikamon and his friends wherever
and whenever convenient.

The night of July 7th had been set for the festivities, and when that
evening came the grounds were resplendent with lighted lanterns and the
banquet halls were festooned with vine and blossom. The beautiful
foliage, the brilliant lights, the fragrant flowers, the lacquered
walls, the spotless floors, the embroidered screens, the simple
ornaments, all combined to make a scene of beauty and inspire a hearty
good will.

The feast had employed the highest art and the ransacking of every
market for rare foods and choice viands. The delicate cooking and
exquisite flavouring proclaimed the finest culinary art, while the mild
tea and rich liquor evinced an exactness of curing and perfection of
brewing that might well rank Maido's workers and artisans in the highest
class of perfection. The dinner in its almost endless round of courses
represented the very acme of human endeavour, tastes, and desires
covering an unbroken period of over a thousand years of polite and civil
life, and might well be the joy of a people who in the nicety of its
conception and the beauty of its creation stands for all time as a model
to the world.

A thousand dancing girls, with embroidered gowns, reeled hither and
thither over the noiseless floor, tripping time to strangely harmonious
and sweet-sounding instruments, while the guests mingled and the feast
progressed. The hour was neither early nor late. The night was warm. Not
a leaf stirred. No sound rose from without. Then suddenly there came the
cannon's roar, a blinding flash. The startled throng sprang up and
stared blankly.

"It is Hoti, god of good will, brandishing his heavenly sword and
beating the mighty drum, Sekegakara," they cried in one accord, as they
recovered, and ran from one to another, talking and laughing the event
away. "How silly to take fright! Let us be merry! Now and for ever!"
rang out, sounding anew the dash of pomp, the march of joy.

Then again and again the threatening voice broke upon the still air,
telling them that a new agency, the force of a friendly foe, was at
their door, bidding them hearken. With each discharge their fears grew,
until bitterness and hate burst forth in determinate unison:

"Foreign devil!"

It was all they could say; it was enough. Yet in all that excitement
there were two who more than others controlled their emotions, and set
about calmly to dissuade hasty and ill-advised action. From the firing
of Commodore Perry's first shot Ikamon divined its certain meaning; and
before the old _Susquehanna_ had ceased sounding her notes of warning he
had begun to evolve a plan for his own aggrandisement. Therefore, while
others fell upon one another in loud appeals to the gods, he moved
quietly among them, foretelling the true character of the strange
visitation. It was quite different, however, with Tetsutaisho, for at
the first sound of firing he fell upon his knees in the midst of a
coterie of admirers, and between gesticulating with his arms and beating
his head upon the floor prayed first to one god, then another, to drive
away the unforeseen and save them from an untimely end. Whether it be
earthquake or "foreign devil" mattered not to him so long as their women
be spared and their honour maintained, though when understanding finally
dawned he suddenly changed face and began strutting around in a boastful
manner, vowing the enemy all sorts of speedy overthrowings and fatal
exterminations.

Between Ikamon's expounding and Tetsutaisho's boasting there was left
little place for speculation, yet there was one, young as he was, who
gave himself over to calm reason. Shibusawa not only judged, but
observed as well. Before the conclusion of the first salute from the
little squadron in the harbour he had realised that the spirit of the
entertainment was broken; and before the last began, saw that the guests
were departing, some politely though all in haste. The few who had the
right were hastening to the citadel, while others sought elsewhere the
most advantageous points of observation; therefore Shibusawa embraced
the earliest opportunity to withdraw, and retired directly to his own
rooms.

From the lower side of his chamber he could see out across the harbour
to where the strange vessels were being placed at anchor. The grey hulls
of the little squadron lay broadside to the city, and their long rows of
mysterious lights shone brightly against the dark background. Rumour had
pictured these castles of the deep, though few in this sacred land had
known or seen them in reality. The sight was an inspiring one, and when
the final salute began Shibusawa's spirit rose, and as volley after
volley rang out against the still, cool air of night his patriotism
stirred him to grand, uplifting thoughts. Here at last was a force
unknown to them; a power beyond their comprehension; a god to be
reckoned with.

He did not stand there long, but in that time fully resolved what he
himself should do. It was a moment for serious thought, and in it there
came to him a world of possibilities. There was no need for him in the
council chamber; he had not yet assumed the responsibilities of state.
His place in the family was that of a makeshift, and his true voice
unheeded. Why not go out into the world and there gain that knowledge
which would satisfy his thirst and possibly in some measure enable him
to preserve the happiness of his own people? Yes; here was an
opportunity; he must go, he would go, come what might.

And then he thought of Kinsan. Would she understand him? He must see
her, and explain. He would reassure her, and gain her consent. Then, and
not until then, there would be no obstacle in the way of his highest
ambition. But how could he reach her? and would she hear him?

"Ah," said he, to himself, "I have it. She will be at the cave;--she is
there now;--it is her only lookout, and she too may have seen this
beautiful sight. The whole place is roused, and by this time on the
move. If my ears serve me right, even the shogun is trying to make his
way to the citadel! I shall have no trouble about entering at the gate,
and will find her. I must go."

His mind once made up he lost no time, but made ready and hurried away.
Outside the castle grounds he found everything in confusion; a few
lingered in front, others tramped up and down, some going, some coming,
and all were in a state of feverish anxiety. At times almost an
uncontrollable impulse to join in with the rest took hold of him, yet he
did not yield but kept steadfastly to his purpose.

Shibusawa soon arrived at the cave, but to his dismay found it
unoccupied. He sat down, and pondered. Presently he looked out over the
vast expanse of tiled and thatched roof, and as his eyes lingered he
comprehended the full measure of its content. There was at their door a
force which proclaimed a greater, a grander civilisation, and could he
but reach the seat of its activities he might know and determine its
character. But was such a thing possible? He knew of no means; not even
whence they came or what were their necessities. Yet those monsters of
the deep must hail from somewhere, and could he but put himself on board
without detection he would be carried thither. Whether they possessed a
like means of subsistence he did not know; tradition did not tell him
that, but he did know that the sea and the air contained food such as he
required, and so long as they did not go beyond these he felt reasonably
sure of being able to provide for himself. His very finger tips tingled
with expectation--but Kinsan arose in his mind and he half whispered:

"No, I cannot, must not go without first seeing her. It is my duty, her
right."

Presently he started off and, not knowing just where to go,
unconsciously turned toward Kinsan's house, opposite to whence he came.
A flight of less than a half dozen steps led down a small declivity, and
when he had nearly reached the bottom he almost stumbled upon Kinsan,
who lay, with her hands folded, crouching upon the lower step. He
stooped quietly over her and whispered, "Kinsan," but she did not answer
him.

"She is sleeping," thought he, "and I will sit here at her side until
she has awakened. The pause will give me time to choose the words, and
her presence the courage to speak."

The warm breeze fanned and soothed, and the still, clear night inspired
him. His mind ran on and out until transported into boundless fancy. The
earth, the sun, the moon, and the stars were not of his world. All were
in the great abyss beyond. He spoke, saying:

"Where?"

A voice answered:

"At my side."

He said:

"At the side of whom?"

The voice said:

"Love."

He looked. The darkness disappeared, and a flood of light streamed
around them and away into limitless space. He said:

"I have found the Light."

And she whispered:

"You are my god."

Kinsan had arisen, and together they walked into the cave, and there sat
and looked and talked and reasoned for a long time.

Not so very long before Shibusawa's arrival at the cave a mysterious
voice had called Kinsan, and she had gone there, kneeling at the stone
steps as she had knelt and prayed since their last meeting. From that
time she had not entered the enclosure, but held it as a place sacred
even to her. It was the throne upon which sat her love, her life, her
god. There she could not enter, but at his feet she was wont to kneel
and pray that he be saved, that the light return, and that he proclaim
her his own, his goddess love.

It was long after midnight when Shibusawa and Kinsan fully understood
each other and again pledged their faith and vowed their never-ending
love: when the stars witnessed their seal, and they parted and went
according to their destined way.



                               CHAPTER X

                             THE STOWAWAYS


Shibusawa ran toward his house with a fleet foot and a light heart. He
had fully made up his mind to go if possible on board one of the strange
ships and sail away with the fleet. Whither he did not know; nor did he
consider when or how he should be able to return. These were trifles
with which he did not concern himself, for the one person above all
others to whom his life was fully consecrated had pledged her faith in
his undertaking, and he proposed boldly and resolutely to go forward
into the dark unknown.

His adventure might carry him into limitless space, possibly land him
upon the shores of another world; or it might cross over the
irresistible or emerge beyond the impenetrable. The home of this strange
people might be the centre of a molten universe or the frozen arc of an
indescribable radius; whatever it was, he had builded his hopes upon
that faith which invites us beyond the grave and makes life worth the
living.

With nothing more than a pilgrim outfit and what seemed to him a goodly
supply of ready money Shibusawa and Okyo stole their way to the side of
the most convenient man-of-war. The day was just breaking and the
harbour already swarming with sampans, filled and manned with the
curiously inclined. After a while with much bickering and bartering they
succeeded in getting aboard, where they were safely stowed away among
the stokers and lay anxiously awaiting the ship's departure.

In the meantime Commodore Perry had despatched an early message to the
shogun, requesting an immediate audience with his duly accredited
representative; and as this request seemed to be backed by proper
credentials, and had been heralded by a strange, bold display of force,
the now thoroughly terrorised autocrat of the flowery kingdom yielded a
point and forthwith directed the anxious but nowhere to be found Ikamon
to visit his grace, the Commodore, on board his ship. Ikamon had
disappeared! Maido was substituted, and to the surprise of the hastily
summoned council and the chagrin of Tetsutaisho this conference did not
last more than an hour, while their rights seemed arbitrarily decreed.
The ambitious commander had reduced his request to somewhat the form of
an ultimatum, which he politely delivered, promising immediately to
withdraw his ships, and in one year return for an answer.

The purpose of the visit and the conditions of the withdrawal alike
remained unknown to Shibusawa, who now lay wholly occupied with the
strange, mysterious things around him. He had not as yet been missed on
shore, for the excitement was great, and his absence attracted no
particular attention. His father, like all the shogun's court, was
busily engaged with what seemed to him a threatening danger. Takara gave
herself very little concern about him, and Nehachibana was already too
well employed with watching her recently affianced Tetsutaisho.

Therefore, when the white squadron filed out, all those on shore
breathed a token of relief, and were happy for the departure, except
perchance one at the hidden cave, whose gladness sprang only from her
faith. She stood there pondering and watching until the last ship had
passed from sight, and then she turned with a sigh to the place which
had brought her such joy only because of the pain. Kinsan returned that
morning to her home a happier woman. She had met life's first severe
trial and had stood the test and won the battle, for she now knew the
power of faith.

Before leaving home Shibusawa had penned a short message to his father,
and one to his wife. He informed Takara that he should be absent for a
long time, and advised her to seek such happiness as she herself might
find. To his father he explained more fully his departure, his
intentions, and his hopes. Again he urged Maido to accept the situation,
feel assured of his safety, and fully confide in his purposes.

As the ship rolled out upon the great ocean Shibusawa gained a parting
glimpse of his native land, and there came over him, only for an
instant, a feeling of awe mingled with something of regret. Then he
dismissed the past and thenceforth looked only to the future.



                               CHAPTER XI

                              CAST ADRIFT


Upon sailing out into the open water the little squadron encountered
calm weather and a smooth sea, and as they had taken the outside course
it was late at night before the Black Current was left behind. The
phosphorescent light danced and played, while the air grew warm and
balmy; though Shibusawa since leaving sight of land ventured not so high
as a port-hole to enjoy the delights of a summer night on the Eastern
seas. In fact, the first relaxation from the excitement of getting off,
the swaying of the ship, the warmth of the boilers, and the closeness of
the atmosphere combined to make him drowsy, and he crawled forward and
hid himself away between great rolls of canvas, where he went fast
asleep.

Nor did he after he had awakened attempt to stir from his hiding-place
until hunger and thirst had driven him out. Then he came, blindly
searching for the one who had undertaken for an advance consideration to
"stow" and feed him and his companion until the ship landed at Shanghai,
its proposed destination. And when he finally did after much confusion
find his provider he was surprised and mortified at the treatment meted
him.

"Take that, Indian, and mind y'u that 'mum is the word'," said the
churlish stoker, as he tossed him an old tin half filled with cold stew,
earlier in the day purloined from the mess.

Shibusawa said nothing and took the food, though not without a look of
resentment. He did not understand the words, but from the fellow's gruff
manner suspected something of his meaning. Those last words, "mum is the
word," impressed him, and intuitively he felt they in some way related
to manner. This he afterwards so thoroughly impressed upon Okyo's mind
that he, doubtful slave, learned no more "European," but made that much
serve his every purpose.

Had Shibusawa been more politic, and accepted the situation as a
necessary consequence of his uncongenial surroundings, he might have
escaped further insult, but that characteristic look of his gave the
big, sooty stoker further occasion to "show off," whereat he pounced
upon him with his big bony hand in such manner as to send his now
bewildered charge sprawling over the loose coals, saying, gruffly:

"Ahoy wid y'u! I'll teach y'u to scud y'r gang. I'll take a reef in y'r
jib, y'u blubberene!"

Shibusawa made no attempt to resist the attack, but consoled himself in
the belief that there were others to be found in this strange
civilisation that were less impolite. He tried to relish the food,
though he could not bear its smell, much less its taste. It was
different cooking from any he had ever eaten, and the seasoning--well,
it was no worse than the ingredients, which he suspected to be mostly
flesh of some kind or another.

"Can these strange people be cannibals? Yes, they must be, else whence
did they obtain this greasy stuff?" queried he, as he thought of his own
fate.

Shibusawa, however, had not started off entirely unprepared, but upon
leaving home had thrust into the folds of his girdle a few handfuls of
loose rice and a small skin of fresh water. Now that he was hungry for
food that he could eat and water that he could drink he withdrew into a
lonely corner and helped himself sparingly. In the matter of clothing he
was more fortunate, for early upon his advent he had succeeded in
bargaining for a pair of blue overalls and jumper, besides cowhide shoes
and a sailor's cap. For Okyo, he had as yet procured only a shirt and
the shoes--the remainder being promised upon their arrival at Shanghai.
Thus the day passed, though it was not later than four o'clock when it
began suddenly to grow dark.

The air was becoming oppressive and the pressure rapidly dropping.
Presently the ship's men began hurrying here and there under enforced
orders, and everywhere about there seemed a hushed, anxious feeling. The
barometer now registered 27,077 and the captain took his place on the
bridge. The stokers' shovels rang from below with the rhythm of their
merry "he-ho," and the black clouds of smoke rolled aft in her wake. The
boatswain's hardy voice rose high above the rattling of cordage and the
planking of hatchways. The half-hour bell solemnly tolled, and a
pall-like stillness settled over all as the storm-centre lowered around
them.

A hush, a whirl, a roar--and the suspense was over. The storm had burst,
and the typhoon was on. The head-on bell sounded and the grimy funnels
belched clouds of sparks, and the ponderous ship hurled a foaming surf
and furrowed the angry sea like a demon waging a last defence. The fire
flashed and the heavens roared and rumbled, while every man braced
himself at his post. Sea after sea lashed and drove upon her decks. Her
cabins creaked and her beams trembled. The breathless lurches, the awful
plunges, the terrific pounding, all told of her mighty battle for life
and of the uncertainty of man's contention with the mad fury of the
elements.

In the midst of the awful storm Shibusawa became deathly sick, and made
a desperate effort to gain the upper deck. Several times he had been
discovered and as often beaten back, but the want of fresh air and the
uncertainty of his position each time impelled him to further effort. At
last he succeeded in reaching the open hatchway, and watching his chance
slipped by and clambered upon the open deck. Here the wind caught him up
and hurled him along the slippery plank and headlong aft, where he
lodged in a tangled mass of débris. A lone boatswain caught him from
going overboard, and in the hurry and excitement lashed him to a life
raft which had been swept up by the last wave. The hardy fellow had
barely covered his own safety when another high sea caught the ship
abaft her starboard bow and swept over her deck like a monstrous tidal
wave.

"Man overboard!" cried the boatswain, as Shibusawa and his life raft
disappeared behind the tumbling, heaving, jagged mountain, that rolled,
and moaned, and foamed in the distance.

His voice was lost in the din of wind and rain that swept down from the
bridge above.

"All under deck and make fast your hatchway!" shouted the captain, as
the quartermaster tugged at the helm's tangled gear.

"We must throw her into the trough of the sea, mate, else we are lost,"
continued he, as the disabled apparatus failed to steer, and a swelling,
growling sea came speeding on.

A crash, a splash, and a shiver--and the big ship lay as if stunned, and
debating whether after all life is worth the trial. Then slowly she
began to rise, and the terrible suspense was over. Caged and fearful men
were now assured of her determination to survive, and they loved and
praised and trusted her. There was no longer any doubt, but every soul
would have pledged his life that she would win the battle. Rising again
she rolled to starboard, as if bantering her oncoming assailant for the
second trial. This one, larger, though calmer than the first, took her
amidship and heaved her over on her port side; then as if unmindful
rolled on and over the submerged ship. Not a man lost his courage as she
sank and sank, and seemed to go farther and farther toward the ghoulish
bottom, but with each faint feeling there came a responsive voice that
rang with certainty:

"She'll win, boys; just give her time."

Presently she sank no more, but rested, as if satisfied to venture no
farther. Then she raised a little, then more, and still more, until at
last she leaped upon the surface and bounded about like a cork on the
water. She had won, and the third wave pushed her down, and dropped her
broadside into the trough of the sea. There she lay, and tossed at the
water's will until the morning of the second day, when the typhoon had
passed and the seas were again calm.

Shibusawa's disappearance was lamented by none but two. When cast adrift
he was so blinded by the spray and drenched with water that he could
neither see nor hear. Fortunately his frail raft did not capsize but
remained right side up, and he clung fast with a tenacity possessed only
by one who is in the very jaws of horrible death. He was a good swimmer
and accustomed to the water, else he might not have fared even so well
as not to have been washed away.

All night long he drifted in the darkness, not knowing where he was or
just how he came to be there. He knew nothing of such conditions and had
never heard of a similar circumstance, yet instinct told him how best to
make use of the slender means at hand; necessity moved him to do so. The
wind blew and the seas lashed. He did not cry out, nor did he lose
courage, for he had resolved to meet his fate like a man. Day came and
passed and he was still alone. Toward night the wind had gone down, and
he could relax his hold and ease his tired arms and numb limbs. He
quenched his thirst a bit from the skin of water, which he still
carried, and then ate sparingly of the rice in his pocket. As the gloom
began to turn into darkness he for the last time stretched himself and
looked around, but could see nothing except perilous waters. For many
long hours he nerved himself to the task, and not until the sun rose the
next morning did he succumb to the terrible exhaustion. Then he sank
down and saw no more, but dreamed of Kinsan and of the rescue that soon
would save him from a watery grave.

It was about three o'clock of that afternoon when the _Fair Puget_, a
lumber schooner from Puget Sound, hove into sight on her return trip
from Shanghai, where she had recently discharged a cargo of timber. The
trim little ship was sailing under a fair wind and the veteran captain,
Thomas N. Thompson, was at the wheel.

"Come here, Jack," said he to his lone mate, as he knocked the ashes
from a rusty box-elder pipe, which he jammed into his grey trousers hip
pocket. "Try the glasses on yon bit of drift, Jack, and see if y'u c'n
make out the like of it."

Jack took the long, brass-trimmed, rust-stained glasses and adjusted
them to his widely set eyes, threw his shoulders back and his middle
forward, and squinted with first one eye, then the other. Presently he
lowered the glasses and with much deliberation drew from his washed-out
overalls pocket a long plug of navy, from which he calmly bit a huge
quid. He then raised the glasses a second time, taking great pains as he
did so to re-adjust and fit them to the importance of the occasion.
After several times shifting his weight from one foot to the other, he
lowered the glasses and placed his arms akimbo and said in an offhand
manner:

"I don't see nothin'. I guess it's a log'r two adrift. Glad we don't
have to reef in--she's makin' a deuced good eight knots now, and I don't
see no let up ahe'd."

"S'p'osin' you give me a spell here't the wheel, Jack, and let me take a
squint on't. Somehow I feel it in my bones--feel't there's something
more'n drift in that bunch," said Tom N., as he was familiarly called
over at the Blakely Mills, where he had been getting charters since the
first cargo left its port.

"All right, cap'n. You're the judge, and I'm not objectin',so long as we
don't have to heave to. It 'u'd be a tarnation pity to spile this
beautiful head on--you know we're already short on time. That whirler
was a corker, wan't she, cap'n?" said the easygoing fellow, as he
spattered the deck with fresh tobacco juice and toyed with the wheel,
which stood loosely wound at his side.

"Jack," said the captain, presently, with a feeling of great
satisfaction, "there's something besides 'still life' in that heap, if
I'm not mightily mistaken. See that school of shark round there?"

"Are y'u sure them's not dog fish, cap'n?" queried the pretending mate,
who was still anxious to make good use of a favourable wind, if not to
avoid hauling in the sails.

"Yep; they're shark, sure enough," continued the captain, now more
certain than ever. "I guess we'll have to haul to, mate. It won't do to
pass somethin' in distress--not so long as Tom N. is the poop sheik of a
gig sloop. Not on your life, mate! And who knows but one of us'll be the
very next to man a like un'?"

"Well, I s'pose it's the order, then?" said Jack, gloomily. "I'll bet,
though, it's nothin' more'n a 'Jap,' even if we do heave to."

Jack lost no time in putting the men to work, and, as usual, when he
went at it in earnest the thing was soon done. The little three-master
was brought to, not far distant from the floating drift, which now
plainly disclosed the form of a man. The excitement began to grow
intense, and Jack's ponderous voice could have been heard for miles
around as he and two trustys jumped into the lifeboat and yelled:

"Swing to the davits and let go your blocks!" Thereafter no time was
lost in getting the shipwrecked man on board, and in applying the
necessary restoratives; though it was some time before Shibusawa fully
recovered consciousness, and when he did so they were again under full
sail for Port Blakely, Washington.



                              CHAPTER XII

                          A WOMAN'S PRIVILEGE


Shibusawa's being washed overboard left Okyo a helpless and penniless
victim. For nearly two days he managed to escape being burned alive in
the firebox, by the angry stoker, who was now determined to rid himself
of the fruitless charge. Through fright and exposure and hunger he had
become so nearly dumb that when discovered and questioned he could say
nothing but "mum is the word." Then he was taken on deck and offered
food and water, and as a matter of safety placed in the guard house,
where he remained until the ship landed at Shanghai.

Here he was detained until an opportunity came to return him to his
native land, and when he had finally arrived in Tokyo, some two months
later, he was still unable to make any explanation of his condition or
experiences. Maido tried by every means to elicit some word from him
that might throw light upon the whereabouts or safety of his son. All
his efforts were of no avail, and the only thing possible for Okyo to
say was:

"Mum is the word."

Okyo's hapless predicament--which led Maido to think it possible that
his son had met a like fate, or even a worse one--wore heavily upon the
already overburdened daimyo. Since the landing of Commodore Perry's
fleet, matters of state were becoming more and more strained. Every day
brought new charges and counter charges of the one party against the
other. Contrary to Ikamon's promises the literati had not been quelled,
but were again fast gaining strength throughout the south, and even the
mikado himself was becoming not averse to listening to their bitter
complaints, if not to their proposed radical changes. Though Maido was
becoming sick at heart and weak of purpose he could not, much as he
desired to do so, extricate himself from the tangled net that dragged at
the home or in the state. Old tactics and new sorrows were little
calculated to bring him that peace of mind and ease of heart to which he
had all his life looked forward, and Shibusawa's absence had come to be
not only the source of deepest regret but the cause of nervous, restless
anxiety.

Ikamon's schemes, also, were weighing Maido down with uncertainty;
forcing him into a retirement shorn of every consolation saving only
Nehachibana. She soothed him and cheered him and he worshipped her, yet
this last and only comfort was soon to be snatched away. Nehachibana,
too, was suddenly to fall a victim to Ikamon's base desires, to
Tetsutaisho's insatiate thirst. Maido's consent was wrung out of him and
his daughter torn from him, and when on a dark, dreary day early in
September she was carried away the old man broke down and wept bitterly.

"You, too, Nehachibana," were the only words, as the bridal train left,
and wended its way toward Tetsutaisho's father's house, where the eager
bridegroom waited this, the coming of his latest prey.

They were married, and Nehachibana was loved only till abandoned to the
ill-usage of a tyrannical mother-in-law. The Tetsutaishos belonged to
the samurai class and as such were permitted a small living within the
outer moat. Tetsutaisho was next to the youngest of seven children--an
elder brother and five sisters. The father had never risen in the ranks,
but owing to dissipation and over-indulgence had reached a state of
worthlessness which deprived him of all social standing and reduced his
income to the barest necessities. The eldest son had grown up a useless
appendage to an already declining family, and his time was frittered
away at playing "go" or in hanging about at the wrestling matches. The
girls had been at an early age regularly sold into their kind of
slavery, and in such manner the family managed barely to subsist until
Tetsutaisho's fortunes began to rise.

In spite of this one's coarse breeding and fallen rank there was
something about him which appealed to his superiors. He was every inch a
soldier, and few there were who could snap a bow or flash a steel as he.
From childhood he took a fancy to everything military, and early in life
had shown a disposition to redeem a lost heritage and restore his family
to its proper rank and former prowess. However, such a thing as
executive ability was unknown to him. His wants did not go beyond the
hour, and the matter of provision never entered his head. He was hale
and hearty, and a "good fellow well met." There were but two things
which concerned him--war and women; the one his occupation, the other
his amusement.

Therefore, when Nehachibana came to his father's home Tetsutaisho did
not at all worry about the kind or quality of dowry which she brought.
It was only her tender innocence that he coveted, and that only for his
enjoyment. For her he had no sympathy, nothing to offer. She must take
her place, as it was, and be contented. He had not even thought of an
heir--that was a thing which as yet had not occurred to him, and thus it
offered no encouragement to his wife.

There was, notwithstanding, one in the family, his mother, who had
looked forward with a great deal of interest to the coming of the
bride's household effects, particularly the presents, and as they
arrived and were unpacked she grumbled at each, no matter what the kind
or cost. Nothing pleased her, and she said:

"They are fine enough, but lack in quality, I know. And this Maido,
who is he, that my son, my Tetsutaisho, should so honour him as to take
his daughter in marriage? Is this what I am to get? And that without a
voice? Verily the hand of misfortune falls heavily. Beauty and
treasure--rags and fiddlesticks! A joros[10] would have brought me
good returns. And what is this I hear all the time? Goddess
Benten?--Nehachibana! Hist! Better try your prayers on Kwannon. The
goddess of mercy is more likely your need: the goddess of love, your
wish."

"O my most honourable mother-in-law, O my gracious Fukurokuju," said
Nehachibana, meekly. "Myself I most humbly give you, for the god Oshaka
has willed it. May the god Daikaku smile fortune upon you! My Benzaiten,
my wealth surrender. My Kaminaraba, my heart I gave. O Amida, I pray you
bring me always hard suffering if I now or ever keep my mother-in-law in
the least ignorance."

"Well you may be proud to serve. Few wives have husbands who have
mothers who are so exceedingly blessed by the sweet, beautiful god of
good nature, Hoti," answered the vain mother-in-law.

"I take my place with much appreciation, and I now consecrate my life to
the happy service of my most lovely mother-in-law," said Nehachibana,
bowing low.

"Scissors," said the other, while they both scowled away.

Nehachibana's husband was at first exceedingly attentive to her, and
while he did not concern himself about her troubles at home he rather
felt that he had gained a prize by taking Ikamon's advice and marrying
the daimyo's daughter. He soon discovered that he had not only served a
friend, but improved his own chances; for, in these days when disastrous
clouds were forming so rapidly, any connection which brooked a stronger
alliance with a house like that of Maido's meant certain favour to those
concerned.

Tetsutaisho, however, was not always over-sagacious, and as time went on
he began to exploit his fortunes in other directions than at home.
Kinsan had managed to keep well out of his way and therefore, though not
forgotten, out of his mind. Probably, also, he was somewhat lax in
pressing his fondness there because of the demands made upon his
attention by Takara, his rather ardent sister-in-law. In fact, it was at
Nehachibana's homegoing party that he had first begun to feel something
more than a brotherly interest in the deep and unfathomable wife of
Shibusawa. And as they sat together there, on the veranda, with now and
then a falling leaf to remind them of the oncoming season, she looked
unusually pretty, and her rather sad, far-away look did anything but
lessen her attractiveness, as she looked up to him and said:

"Do you think me not enough composed for one so newly married,
Tetsutaisho?"

"No, Takara," answered he, meditatively. "I was just remarking to myself
how well you wore the care. I'll venture his reward vouchsafes the
kindness."

"I trust so."

"He could only say as much."

"Why?"

"I will tell you sometime; I must go now--Nehachibana is waiting for me.
See her--she is actually coming toward us."

"Why, Nehachibana," continued he, speaking to his wife, "you really look
a trifle jealous. How now, my beauty treasure?"

"Oh, no; she's not jealous," said Takara, quickly divining the
situation; "only men have the right to be jealous, women the privilege."

"Oh, Takara! How you do talk!" said Nehachibana, flushed and gladdened.
"I should lose my tongue were I to scold like that. I know I should. No
man would have the patience with me, much less would my husband."

"Nehachibana is right," said Tetsutaisho, consolingly. "A man regards,
and a husband disregards. And why not? Come, my little wife, let us be
off and away. There be times when even virtue has not its reward."

Takara gracefully yielded to the unpleasant interruption, and for a week
or more no further intercourse was had with Tetsutaisho. He became
suddenly so enrapt with Nehachibana that for the time being he forgot
all about Takara and the innocent flush which had come to her cheeks in
speaking of marriage and its attendant influences. It was not so with
Takara. She remembered well his words and how he brightened with
interest at her every whim and fancy; then she thought of how happy
Nehachibana must be.

"I am not jealous," said she to herself, time and time again. "It is
only Nehachibana. I do not know such a thing; only other women are
jealous. I wonder why? Nor do I envy anybody. I only wish Shibusawa were
like Tetsutaisho. How I would love him--love him, oh, love him!"

Often her feelings ran on and on until she fancied her own husband the
hero of her life. No taint had ever entered her heart. She believed him
the master of her destiny and the fulfilment of her fortunes. Then
Tetsutaisho came again, toward the latter part of September, and she was
not displeased with his courtesies. He had come at the instance of
Ikamon to talk over the matter of the shogun's successor--that Iyeyoshi
was now ill and there seemed to be no hope of his recovery--but,
presently he came, there arrived a message for Maido to appear forthwith
at a council meeting (prefacing the expected), at which the
grief-stricken daimyo hurried away, leaving the young and careless
general there to entertain the ladies or idle away his time at will.

It was a quiet afternoon and Tetsutaisho and Takara wandered off beneath
the falling leaves to a sheltered place on the lawn. Takara was lonely.
She had had no friendships since Tetsutaisho's last visit except only
Maido's, her father-in-law. To him she was already beginning to be a
comfort, and in a measure to take the place of his lost daughter. But it
was an old man's friendship; and when the younger gallant left her that
evening she may have bidden him welcome to return.



                              CHAPTER XIII

                     DANGER IN SHIBUSAWA'S ABSENCE


So far as Tetsutaisho was concerned he had called at the daimyo's castle
only by accident, though there was much anxiety and probably no one's
fortune more at stake. Iyeyoshi had grown old and inert amidst strained
conditions, and appreciated more fully than could Iyesada, his youthful
successor, the necessity of advancing the bold, heedless young general.
Nor was Tetsutaisho free from the danger of rival aspirants; yet there
was no war at hand, and he knew of no better business than pleasing
Ikamon and paying respect to the ladies at court.

Here he need not concern himself with rivalry, for the one guided with a
jealous eye his rising place and the other enjoyed without interruption
his pleasing address. He came and went at will, and had he not sooner
possessed an unknown love he might have quicker formed an attachment.
Takara responded naturally to the voice of inevitable will, but a
yearning heart unconsciously bade him seek Kinsan.

Without neglecting the former, he pressed his suit for the latter, and
now more than ever became a faithful caller at the modest cottage in the
garden; and as he persisted Kinsan determined and withdrew patiently
into the solitude of her unknown retreat, and there conjured feelings of
love that ripened with each thought and strengthened in the face of
every danger. Filial affection bound her and crowned her, yet she was
possessed of a new force, moved by a deeper impulse. She battled with
the inevitable and yielded her life to what seemed to be the impossible;
no quarter was given, and fate tracked her even to her last place of
hope.

It was on a warm afternoon in early spring, when the clouds overhung
with threatening storm, that Tetsutaisho, hurrying toward his home,
wended his way along the selfsame pathway, which led past Kinsan's
lonely spot on the hillside. As he came into sight a gust of wind swept
down the gully and whipped his kimono close round his limbs. He paused
and looked overhead, but none too soon, for large drops, falling
straight and swift, warned him of the rapidly approaching downpour.

"If I mistake not," said he, to himself, "I shall get a good drenching
this time. I wonder what shelter is that in the distance? If I could get
there without too much hobbling--it is my only chance. I shall venture."

If he had but looked closer he might also have seen Kinsan, who had gone
there earlier in the day to escape his presence at her house. However,
she saw him, and when he left the path she had so often watched him
tread her heart stood still and she trembled with fright. He was surely
coming, and there was no possible means of escape. She appealed not to
the gods, but grasped at intuition; her secret hiding-place offered an
alternate, and quickly entering she covered her safety as best she
could.

Tetsutaisho found his way there; and in time, for it had not yet begun
to rain, though great clouds were massing and the sky was growing dark
and hollow. He entered the scant shelter with no concern about its past
or thought of its significance. It was a covering, and though dreary he
faced about and looked out at the grand panorama of mingled peace and
storm its outlook brought into view. He stood with folded arms, likening
the elements to a marshalling of the samurai, in which he should
sometime startle the land and bring glory to himself. And then he
thought of Kinsan and of how she, too, were she there would under such a
spell acknowledge his unalterable right. He straightened back and
marvelled at his greatness, while the lowering clouds rumbled afar.

Then suddenly a submerged sneeze at his back frightened him, and he
wheeled about and peered into the gloom at the dumb, bleak walls. He
could see no one, and suddenly it grew dark, and clashing thunder broke
overhead. Again he was startled by the same mysterious sound, and he
fell down and cried:

"It is the ghost of Taira!"

Scarcely had he uttered the words when the rain began to pour, and the
ghoulish sound once more started him to his feet, and he ran out into
the driving storm and dashed down the hillside, toward his home, far
beyond the second moat. Here, soaked and exhausted, he hid himself in
his room and pondered deeply the voice at the cave. The rain pounded
overhead, and in each corner there seemed lurking a spirit--he heard
many sounds.

It was a warning, and the next day Tetsutaisho was at the council
chamber, early and faithful. He heard Ikamon argue against change, and
in favour of continuance; comprehended his meaning, that natural growth
is the law of the gods; and agreed with his charge, that nothing short
of revolution could overthrow a system that followed regular, active,
inherent growth.

"What," said the prime minister, with squeaking voice and expressionless
face, "would you have us do? Change our course now that the storm drives
at our front and the breakers rise behind us? Would you at mid-stream
change this good old ship, that has weathered the storm of ages, for one
that is new and untried? No; a thousand times no! and may such men as
Maido, Saigo, Katsu, Tetsutaisho, and--if I may be permitted--Ikamon,
live to helm her safely into port. Iyesada, brave captain that he is,
cannot afford to man his ship with other than the skilled and
experienced, and where else can he find them but at the post of duty?
This is the plan which I propose, and I call upon every loyal citizen,
every adherent of the august shogun, and every lover of the divine
mikado, to rally to my support."

They came; the victory was his; and the shogun more than ever in his
power. Katsu was soon thereafter placed at the head of the navy, and
Tetsutaisho advanced to the command of the army. It was the reward his
friends had given him for his loyalty, and he took the advancement as a
matter of course, not even deigning to return thanks or offer a promise.
So far as he was concerned his friends were his fortune, and even the
law of the land had no place as between him and them.

Under Ikamon's domination Tetsutaisho was relieved of the necessity for
any particular state activities, while his promotion had placed him
socially at the head of the samurai, as had his marriage to Nehachibana
raised him in esteem among the nobility and given him standing at court.
The state furnished him with luxuriant quarters, where he domiciled his
family, under the immediate sway of his fault-finding mother, with
Nehachibana as her patient, industrious slave. Time passed leisurely,
and as he had long ago forgotten his desperate resolve he was wont more
than ever to make regular calls at his father-in-law's house.

As these visits grew in frequency, the length of his stay became less
guarded; and Takara, at first looking upon his coming as a pleasing
incident, recurring now and then in her monotonous life, welcomed him,
then looked for him, and now, that his had come to be her only true
companionship, longed for his coming.

"You will come to-morrow, will you not, Tetsutaisho?" said she, with
pleading, wistful eyes, as he was about to leave her on a warm, inviting
night in June.

"Yes, Takara," answered he, softly and earnestly. "I will come over, and
together we will watch the second sailing of Perry's fleet, the
departure of the first man who ever dared profane our soil. I understand
the arrant braggart has finally wrung from the shogun certain privileges
that are not less dangerous than disgraceful. As he came, he will go
out: booming his noisy guns. It will be a showy thing, and possibly
worth our seeing. I shall certainly come, my lady, especially that it
pleases you to have me. And now, good-night, and pleasant dreams."

Upon the following day Tetsutaisho once more wandered over to the
council and for a time hopelessly endeavoured to share in the tumult
occasioned by the second appearance of the American fleet. He was deeply
impressed with the importance of the proceedings, but diplomacy was not
his business, nor was it in keeping with his ideas of national honour,
much less official dignity or personal heroism. To him Ikamon's subtle
harangue had been quite as much a bore as was the commodore's demand a
bold and hollow bluff. Had he had his way he would have invited the
meddlesome foreigner to come ashore and inspect the samurai before
undertaking to establish in their midst any sort of commercial theft.
But Tetsutaisho's voice as yet had no weight in the chamber, and he knew
it and was satisfied. Withdrawing presently, he returned homeward and
prepared himself for a more pleasing diversion.

Toward evening the weather grew warm and inviting, and Tetsutaisho
strolled over to Takara's house early, where they loitered on the
veranda and supped long at their tea. There was that stillness in the
air that begets confidence, and the moon rose clear and bright. He sat
smoking and dreaming, and she chatted away or toyed with the tiny cup in
front. He had finished his pipe, then he said:

"Shall we stroll over to the arbour vine, Takara? The woods are
inviting, and there we can get a glimpse of the 'Yankee' as he hurls our
foam at his back. Come, my lady, shall I assist you to rise?"

Takara drooped her eyes and blushed, and he did not resist the
temptation, but sat at her side and took her willing hand in his. She
leaned forward, and looking into his upturned face revealed the answer.
Nothing could stay or mar that pleasure. They sat there enrapt with the
joy of all time: only the stars gave witness, and when they had awakened
there was no need for a scene in the moonlight, for a crossing of the
ways, for a going into the halo of life; they had sooner found their
affinity, and all the glories of heaven and earth could not transport
them more, and when they went out into the dawn it was to revel in
thoughts sweeter than dreamland had ever revealed. A beautiful sunburst
beamed from her heart, and her eyes shone with a love that welcomes the
true; that fades and shuns at the false. The fleet had long passed out,
the moon had risen high, and God had again proven the wisdom of all
things when those two returned and parted for the night.

As Tetsutaisho hastened along the gravelled pathway toward his home his
step was less firm and his purpose more uncertain than when he came. His
course had led him over the firmer hold and into the boundless sea of
uncertainty. What was once a passion was now fast becoming a desire, and
he knew no such thought as halt. Whither he did not know, perhaps he did
not care, for to him the world was but a reality: its pleasures were its
eternity. And not until he approached his own house did he think of
Nehachibana, and of how she had made his home worth the while; of her
waiting and watching and praying for his return; of the boundless joy
that filled her heart at the first sound of his footsteps, and then he
said to himself:

"These wise old fathers of my country have fitted well the act and made
certain their provision for such as she and I. The law makes marriage
tolerable and it makes love enjoyable. A thousand dry draughts to you!
May the laws live long, and love die never! O Jurokin; O Benten; hear
me!"



                              CHAPTER XIV

                             THE "NO" DANCE


After the departure of Perry and his fleet there was nothing of
importance from the outside world to disturb the quaint little kingdom,
so snugly hemmed in by the eastern waters. There was no immediate
necessity for any material change at the newly made treaty ports, and in
consequence the administration made known only so much of the terms of
the compromise as it was thought would satisfy the opposition. The
people were left in doubt as to its full purport, and thus they soon
became reconciled to a belief that after all the danger might not be so
great as at first supposed.

After the storm had passed there came a lull which might have lasted
indefinitely had Ikamon been more sagacious in the treatment of local
affairs. His sway at home was now supreme, and his rule so effective
that he mistook complaisance for submission, and as a result overlooked
the slow but positive disaffection in the south.

When the readjustment took place it was thought that Saigo's reward and
position would tend to allay the discontent in that locality, and that
an economic policy would again restore the shogun to the full confidence
of all sections of the country. This was true in a measure, but the
patriots who worshipped at the mikado's seat could not be effectively
won over by personal favours bestowed upon their leaders. They were full
of the soul of ancient times, and nothing short of a complete
restoration of conditions could satisfy their rising spirits.

However, the shock of recent events had so checked their growth as to
give Ikamon a chance to centralise his force and place Tetsutaisho at
the head of a consolidated army. In all these doings the young general
took no active part other than to hold himself in readiness to strike
when called upon, but in the meantime gave himself up wholly to the
delights of a love that was inevitable, if without the pale. Shibusawa
continued to remain absent, and to all but his father had become as if
forgotten, while Takara was now the favourite of the lord daimyo, and
the castle offered her every privilege as she liked. Tetsutaisho was her
slave, and she toyed with him as with a child, coming regularly and
remaining at her will.

"Let us go down by the summer garden," said she, on a sultry afternoon
in July, as they finished their tea on the veranda. "There by the pond
where the snow-white cranes stalk silently about or lazily tuck their
sacred heads; under the rose-covered retreat that juts out over the
iris-flagged waters. How I do love to sit there and be your
idle-thought!"

"I am glad you proposed it. I will call the carriers and we will take
the norimonos (chairs) down. It is too hot to walk this day," answered
he, glad of the chance.

Having in a little while arrived at the chosen retreat they lounged on
the matted floor amidst the fragrance of the lotus and in view of the
iris-studded waters in front. A cool breeze gently floated in, and now
and then a golden crane crossed in the wake of his abode.

"I wish I were a bird," said Takara, dreamily.

"Then I should be your mate," answered Tetsutaisho, quickly.

"And this our nest," whispered she.

"Our paradise," said he.

"And if it were," continued Takara, "we would live here for ever, and
there would be no parting and no improprieties. I do hate a world where
one must suffer to be happy! Kamie has given us all these beautiful
things and has made us to love, and naughty man has tried to upset it
all and make us creatures of his convenience. I, for one, propose to
consult more my own pleasure."

"Quite right you are, Takara; conventionality is a thing I do not like
so very well myself. Yet we ought not to complain, for there is really
nothing to prevent us from making this our heaven. Who could ask for a
more lovely spot! And I assure you there is neither man nor law to stand
between us."

"Do you think so?"

"It is true. I know it."

"Then I am content, for I have but a single thought."

"Just as the beautiful lotus which you see standing here and there and
all about. It is emblematic of purity, which springs from
single-mindedness; and of virtue, because of its usefulness. You are
just like they, and I love them and I am going to love you."

"And you always will?"

"So long as Jurokin be a god."

After a while they had said their say and, leaning back on the rustic
moulding, contented themselves with looking out at the shadows falling
across the mirrored lake from the tall cypress standing on the bank.
Presently Takara broke the silence by saying:

"Let us call the geishas; the water is so still and the day suggestive.
What do you say, Tetsutaisho?"

"A happy thought. And what shall it be?"

"I have but one choice."

"The ancient dance?"

"Yes; 'No.'"

Tetsutaisho called and despatched a servant to the shibai (house of
entertainment) for Michizane, the "lover of the plum" and poet to
Takara, who came forthwith and bowed, and then stood by, waiting to be
directed. Tetsutaisho first spoke, saying:

"Michizane, your lady would have you provide some entertainment before
the sun is set. She herself will suggest the kind."

"Yes, Michizane," said she. "Let it be 'no,' the dance of our fathers;
then, if you like, a poem."

Michizane bowed and departed, though not with a happy expression. Since
her early childhood this old man had faithfully provided Takara with
innocent amusement, which service, since his lady's marriage to
Shibusawa, consisted chiefly in reading to her poems of his own
creation. She had brought him along from Kyoto as a necessary part of
her household effects, all of which belonged to an age or a school not
of the shogun's. He was now a veteran of sixty years, and little
calculated to compose in a vein suited to his fair lady's taste, except
it be not when Tetsutaisho was so near by.

Michizane was not long, however, in arranging in front of the "lovers'
nest" the covered float, upon which there balanced a dozen and six--one
for each half decade from birth to ninety--of the fairest and loveliest
of the geishas. These were arranged at the rear of the platform in the
form of a crescent, beginning at the left with the youngest and ending
at the right with the oldest--symbolic of the rising and the setting of
the sun. All were clad in rich garments, fashioned according to their
ages, and their hair was arranged in representation of the several
stages of womanhood. They stood with bowed head and extended foot, ready
to reel and swing at the first sound of the music.

At the centre of the crescent there sat facing the dancers three others
of a different type and a more gaudy dress, with bright coloured
ornaments in their hair and much tinsel about their waists. These were
the koto players, who held their instruments in front waiting the signal
for them to begin the dance.

In front of these, facing the dancers, sat Michizane, cross-toed and
erect, with his withered hands folded in front of him. He wore a plain
grey kimono, which folded under a long girdle, looped up at the side,
and his long white hair fluffed out and hung far down over his stooped
shoulders.

Everything was now silent, not even a leaf stirring. The sun blazed in
the west, and the deep shadows told of its setting. The dancers grew
animated, the players composed, and Michizane reverent, and there arose
in the listeners mingled feelings of sorrow and delight. Their hearts
beat, and the grey poet bowed low, and the dance began. The soft strains
of music inspired them, and the lesson unfolded before them repeated the
story of life for ever and evermore. One by one the maidens laid bare
their part in the great drama that unfolds from the cradle to the grave,
and no man there looked without a deeper sense of responsibility and a
happier inspiration for the day. No vulgar thought disturbed them, for
theirs was a purer and a nobler reality. Base desires arose from another
source; the choosing, the sin. As the last dancer disrobed the strains
lowered, and when the final shred was doffed the music ceased and the
sun set: the drama was over and the world in darkness. There was no need
for covering, no desire to live.

Thus those two passed the time, when it was agreeable for them to meet.
At Koyo-odori (maple dance for girls) Takara gave a party on the lawn,
to which all of her younger girl friends in the neighbourhood were
invited. Tetsutaisho was there in his uniform, with full regalia, and of
course was the idol of the fair young maidens, who looked upon him as
being little less than a god. In mid-winter the Mukojima (snow-seeing
trip) afforded an opportunity to get into the country, where they
lingered and enjoyed themselves at will. The mountain Tsukuba, just back
of Tokyo, was their favourite place for this event, whither the
white-enrobed earth stretched away to the ocean in front. Whether winter
or summer they were always happy when together and lonely when not.

Finally on a bright morning in March--it was March third, the day of
Hinanosaku, festival for young girls--the sun rose and cast its red
among the tall trees and the furrowed housetops of the castle ground.
Maido struck his pipe against the brazier and then arose and slowly left
his room. Presently he climbed the short lacquered stairs and entered a
deserted room with panelled sash through which the sunlight streamed and
warmed the cheerless place.

The squared ceiling revealed a rich setting of wood and grain, and the
floor was spread over with soft, clean matting. A large vase of
beautiful blue, in which grew a dwarfed orange, fragrant with bloom,
stood upon a raised recess in the wall. Over this hung a long
kakemono,[11] done by an old master, and in a corner stood a screen of
rare embroidery. There was nothing more, and the room seemed bare and
desolate. Takara was gone. The daimyo's heart throbbed heavily, and he
knelt behind the screen, and with his face turned away begged Kimon to
give him freedom.

As he sat there an aged man, bent and sorrowful, stole in and across the
room to the sacred recess in the wall, where he bowed, and said:

"Alas! It is well!"



                               CHAPTER XV

                             HOME ABANDONED


Takara did not change, nor chafe, nor exalt under the new conditions;
she only loved Tetsutaisho, and being installed in his house she felt
secure in what before hardly seemed a reality. His heart was hers, she
reasoned, and the law made his domicile her privilege. And had he not
convinced her? And might not Nehachibana be proud of her husband's
choice? Better such a concubine than an absent husband, she thought;
and, after all, need she rob her sister-in-law of what seemed
impossible?

The lovers were happy, and Nehachibana, at first flushed and nervous,
had now grown cold and calm. Her own chamber was comfortable, even
luxurious, yet for hours she would lay her ear close to the frail
partition, and a monster bade the fancies that leaped to her brain. In
her bath no abomination had entered. No mugwort or sweet flag had
desecrated there. Yet the stork was as silent as the tombs of Nodo, and
her hopes had changed to fear, her position to that of a slave. Once she
crouched low and listened; then she clutched at emptiness and her face
whitened, and she crawled back to her own miserable mat and there
planned and determined. Presently she slept, and dreamed of her master's
expected son, which to her had been a blessing.

Nor was she alone in her suspicions, for what she had heard and dreamed
the silvered poet visioned and divined. The spirit had touched him, too,
and he sorrowed when he waked. Then as if moved by an uncontrollable
impulse he stole to Takara's abandoned home and there mused at the
unhallowed life of his downfallen mistress, his idolised queen. Maido,
too, had gone there to reflect, and he made no move to disturb the
other, but left him to bide the impulse of his nature, commune with the
god of his disturbed conscience. Michizane was the product of a nobler
life, the devotee of a gentler age, and a worshipper at the tomb of an
ancestry far removed from the wicked intrigues of a feudal aristocracy.
His was of the mikado's way, the effect of a divine inspiration. To
transgress from its sacred guidance was to fall from the pale of life
and to forfeit every privilege of redemption.

Takara, too, was born and bred of this master influence, and
notwithstanding her impulsive nature possessed all the charm and dignity
of a royal personage, together with that broader intellect which comes
of high endeavour, and that better grace which is the product of refined
associations. She was proud though not haughty, and in her soul there
lived a purpose.

Unlike her, Nehachibana was the product of a proud nobility. Shut up
within the castle gates, she had always been idolised and petted. She
had known of no want that was not supplied, and had expressed not a wish
that was not gratified; every luxury had been showered upon her. Her
sense of the good was the one bright hope in her life, for she knew not
the force of intellect, nor had she been taught to reason. When she went
forth into the world she was helpless in the race, and when she tasted
of the bitter it was like the gall of quassia, and she fell at the
shrine of Amida.

Of a sweet disposition, Nehachibana had always looked upon the brighter
side of life; therefore it was the more difficult for her to reconcile
herself to the thought that hers was not a just treatment. She sometimes
felt that it was her own shortcomings that had driven her husband away
from her, and then she would set about with renewed effort to see that
his house was made agreeable to his coming, and her love worthy of his
taking. Once she said to herself:

"I shall please him. He is mine and I must win. No other loves him as I
do; none but me can have him. He is mine unto death. I shall--but oh!
that other one! And the law, and I--O Kami, my heart, my heart, it is
breaking! Is there no help? Is there no help for--me? But she, she has
his love! It is not he, it is his weakness that she loves! And I, I am
helpless!--Helpless? No! Did I not hear Kiyokime, the goddess of hate?
And did she not say revenge? And I a woman? Then to the work, and let it
be as swift as the necessities may allow. I will have revenge!"

However, it was less easy for Nehachibana to execute than to resolve.
She was now entirely cut off from any association whatever with her
rival, and found it difficult even to satisfy her curiosity. This
unpleasant situation had been brought about more by the foolishness of
her mother-in-law than by her own dulness, yet it affected her none the
less for that. Heretofore it had been irksome to do service for her
rival, which both situation and custom compelled, but now that she had
resolved it would have been a pleasure. Still, as difficulties arose her
determination increased, and she not only concluded to bide her time but
to make certain her victory.

When Takara came into their home Tetsutaisho's mother was at first so
overwhelmed with the honour and so proud of herself that she became not
only tyrannical to her former household but somewhat insufferable to the
newcomer. The new acquisition had insisted upon bringing all of her own
servants, and had little need and less desire for the assistance of her
gallant's mother or other relations: that was something she had not
bargained for, and she was of a mind not to tolerate meddlesome
interference. Consequently, Takara had not been there many months before
she had appropriated to her own exclusive use that portion of the
premises which suited her most.

Tetsutaisho personally concerned himself in these sometimes threatening
matters no further than to give his consent to anything that anybody
might propose; and as his mother took the ground that it was her right,
and as Nehachibana had nothing to ask, the proposals were always on the
side of Takara and the victory in her favour. While Tetsutaisho did not
mean to be irreverent he did love a plucky battle and was inclined to
the belief that to the winner belongs the spoils. That, probably as much
as a careless indifference, prompted him to give the ladies of the house
a free hand in its management, and always to absent himself at the first
sign of a disturbance.

It was, possibly, at one of these bothersome times that Tetsutaisho
stole out and unconsciously found his way to the council chamber. He had
gone away in this manner before, but seldom got so far as the hall of
state. Sometimes he loafed at headquarters or called upon Maido. More
often he spent the hour with Ikamon, who was now deeply engrossed with
adjusting local affairs so as to meet the requirements of foreign
interference, but on this occasion a higher purpose seemed to control
him, and for the first time he voiced his sentiment in unmistakable
terms.

Unconsciously, perhaps, but none the less certain, the hated stranger
had peeped into the treasure box, and so infused a commercial and
diplomatic awakening as to lay the foundation for nothing less than the
rehabilitation of a long lost empire. It was the dawn of a new era, and
no one more than Ikamon interpreted correctly the scope and consequence
of so sudden a contact with Christian civilization. As yet the shogunate
had not been openly accused of collusion with the foreigners; still
whisperings to that effect had been heard, as coming from Kyoto; and the
prime minister, no more to be outdone at home than to be defeated from
abroad, began to encourage an increase in the army and to advise
Tetsutaisho accordingly.

Ikamon was, also, not slow to grasp at the importance of improved
methods and had strongly urged Tetsutaisho to bestir himself in adopting
and applying more effective instruments, but the latter was rather
inclined to the belief that there was not so much to be gained by
radical changes: that the disorganisation attendant upon the
introduction of new measures more than offset the benefits derived. He
reasoned that the samurai were already trained and fully equipped. He
knew they were brave to a man, and loyal.

"What more," said he, "would you have? Would you see cowardice supplant
courage, and the black powder of a foe substituted for the ringing steel
of our forefathers? These men are invincible, and Tetsutaisho is a
general. Give me the opportunity, the occasion, and I will convince
you."

As he spoke his voice rang with the pride of ages, and the council halls
echoed and re-echoed with applause. Even Ikamon was for the moment swept
away with enthusiasm, as the vigorous man swung his great arms and
shouted the glory of the nation's defenders. It was not so much a want
of understanding that made Tetsutaisho slow to feel the necessity of
change, but it was more the red blood coursing through his veins which
gave him an unbounded faith in the loyal, faithful, worshipping army at
his command. He believed in their superiority and felt them worthy of
their country's confidence, and as he retired from the chamber and
walked out into the park his step livened with pride and his whole being
quickened with a rising confidence in himself and a growing contentment
with the world. He thought of his home and of the love that Takara had
lain at his feet; of the faithful, patient consideration of Nehachibana,
his lawful wife and worthy helpmeet; of his mother, and how she fretted
and worried and fussed as opportunities came and her station advanced;
then suddenly he came upon Kinsan and all this vanished from his memory
as if a thing of yesterday.

She was with her father, who stood off some distance turning a tiny
stream of water into the garden, which showed the ravages of a long dry
spell. It was Choyo, the ninth day of the ninth month, and there had
been no rain for more than a moon past. Kinsan sat in the shade of a
spreading oak, at one corner of the garden near where the roadway
passed, and grouped about her were a number of children whose wide eyes
sparkled with interest as she repeated to them a poem well suited to the
occasion.

It was a favourite selection from Onokomachi, the blind poetess, who
ever prayed for rain. The words were familiar to Tetsutaisho and he,
too, stopped at the border and listened. Kinsan's voice rang tender and
sweet, though there seemed a pathos which touched him and caused a
deeper interest. Had he neglected her? Was she now pleading for that
which he had so long sought? His memory went out to her, and he
determined again to try.



                              CHAPTER XVI

                             A GREAT SORROW


Soon Kinsan's father was attracted by the new melody of her voice, and
he, too, came and stood near and listened. No word was said until after
the song had been finished. Then Fujimoto came forward and bowed to
Tetsutaisho. This was the first warning Kinsan had of the unusual
audience her singing had attracted, and she quickly arose and bowed and
made excuses for her inattention.

"I would rather you sat there and sang than to have arisen and
courtesied a thousand times," said Tetsutaisho, as he left the roadside
and made his way among the lilacs to where she was standing. "One does
not often have the opportunity, though the wish be constant, and the
privilege of being one of such an audience!" he continued, as he leaned
over and caressed first one and then another of the little children as
they came huddling up. "Were it not that you deserve such happiness,
Fujimoto, I might almost envy you your good fortune in being placed here
amidst such loveliness. The trees, the birds, the flowers, the
children--and, allow me, the daughter--among whom you dwell, must
certainly inspire a rare happiness."

The children had by this time scampered in all directions, and the three
elders were left to speak or go as they liked.

"Yes, honourable sir." said Fujimoto, touched not a little, "these are
truly things not to be despised. The daughter is my comfort: all are my
joy, and after all, my lot may not be a despicable one. Had I always the
favour of Sumi, god of water, my task might be lighter. Still I am
content, and happy so long as my Kinsan is spared to me."

Nothing further was said about Kinsan; the one and only object of
interest which the nobleman could have or cared to have in the humble
gardener's affairs. They walked along at Tetsutaisho's suggestion toward
the cottage, which stood some little distance farther on. When the big
officer entered the palace enclosure he had no intention of making the
gardener's family a call. In fact, he had of late almost dismissed them
from his mind; but the moment he heard Kinsan's voice the spark within
again came to life, and when he drew near and saw how modestly she sat
and how neatly she was gowned and how her eyes sparkled with life and
how the blood rose to her cheeks, his heart flamed more fiercely than
before. Tetsutaisho pondered, then said to himself:

"It is only the father who stands in my way. If I could but get his
confidence, I might then win her love. But why ask anybody's consent?
Force will get me the one thing, and--well, persistence the other. They
are both at my disposal--why delay the matter?"

Kinsan did not speak as they walked, but fell into a deep study. Whether
it came to her intuitively or from a change in Tetsutaisho's mood she
partially understood him, and as they approached the house and she
thought of her mother a feeling of fear took hold of her and she
trembled and hesitated. She knew of their straitened circumstances and
of how her mother had repeatedly chided her father for not having taken
advantage of Tetsutaisho's former liberal offer. The ends of her fingers
tingled, then grew cold, and the perspiration stood in great beads on
her forehead. When they had arrived at the house and her mother came
running out, bowing to the visitor, Kinsan's heart sickened, and she no
longer possessed that confidence in her father which had hitherto buoyed
her under each successive trial.

"It is the hand of fate, and I am its certain victim," was the thought
which ran through her mind and would not go away.

When the rest entered the house she politely withdrew, unnoticed, and
went away, far into the woods, and on and on until she came to the
hidden cave, where every rock and all the flowers and even the stars had
sung again and again of her great love and Shibusawa's faith. She did
not return, but lingered and stayed, and prayed fresh prayers; and then
she thought she saw him there bending over her; she heard him speak and
looked into his eyes, and felt again the power of his love. After a long
time she went away, and when far from the cave and all about was
darkness and she was uncertain of her way a chill came over her and she
thought of the tempter's bait and her mother's weakness.

"Would to God that I, too, had found a way!" was her last thought as she
nestled upon her wooden pillow, and at last slept a broken, restless
sleep.

Late that evening Tetsutaisho left the cottage and lightly tripped along
down the pathway toward his own house. As he went his steps quickened,
and he almost ran with delight. He carried in his girdle a document
which on the morrow he would safely file and thus insure the proper
keeping of its lawful provisions. Upon his arrival he hurriedly entered
the house, and that night Takara may have had, for the first time,
misgivings of a weaker purpose on Tetsutaisho's part than she herself
had divined.

However that may have been, it mattered not to Tetsutaisho, for on the
following day his own carriers set in front of the gardener's cottage a
beautiful lacquered chair into which there stepped a weeping, sorrowing
child; a daughter whose only price was the worth of her virtue, whose
only hope lay in the power of her own frail hands.

She went, and with her the rags that hung upon her back. There was not a
mother's blessing, and the father had slunk back from witnessing the
fruit of a heartless wife's bargaining. It was not the first. Others had
likewise served. And the fathers and mothers had for ages eagerly and
unknowingly partaken of the wages.



                              CHAPTER XVII

                               THE CHILD


Upon Kinsan's arrival at Tetsutaisho's house she was treated with every
consideration by her master, and in reality though not in fact given
equal rank with the mistress. She was settled in that part of the house
over which his mother was supposed to reign and his lawful wife,
Nehachibana, had been the principal personage, and while not raised to
the place of a concubine she was given all the privileges of one. Her
position was supposed to be that of a servant, yet in turn she was given
servants and no duties were, by Tetsutaisho, exacted of her. It was not
because he did not intend her to be his full-fledged concubine, nor
because he had any scruples about Nehachibana that he did not give
Kinsan that position; but simply because he entertained grave doubts
about Takara's pleasure in the matter--something with which even he as
yet hesitated to trifle.

He had gained Takara's love, and her honest love, upon the strength of
an affinity--a thing which, so long as it lasted, brooked no rival. He
had, though, in taking her into his house assumed responsibilities far
beyond personal ones; and recognising the superiority of her position
realised that, should he incur her displeasure, she had but to call upon
a power that might overthrow and discard him in spite of his usefulness.
He sought, therefore, to deceive Takara as to his real purpose in
bringing Kinsan into the house, and to let her discover by slow degrees
that, without a proper encouragement, even affinity may wane and finally
cease to hold the object of its affection.

Takara still loved him and was none the wiser; thus he continued without
danger his complicated relations, though she felt a growing coldness and
the oncoming of something, she knew not what. She was now deeply worried
and much given to thinking, for there was approaching also a critical
period; but when rumours came to her ears, and she chided him about
Kinsan, he answered:

"Takara, you do me a great injustice. I am not only true, as you see,
but I have anticipated the necessity of keeping at hand one upon whose
shoulders may be placed the responsibilities for the care of our child."

"But why not intrust that service to one whom we know to be best
fitted?" asked Takara, anxiously. "There is Nannoto, whose mother
carried in her arms your mother's mother."

"No, Takara; it is not the service I would trouble myself about. My lady
should not so degrade herself."

"Why degraded? You told me not."

"It is not the fashion."

"But if it is my choice?"

"You have no choice."

"Would you take from a mother her child?"

"The law allows it."

"Then the law is unjust, and there is a better way."

"Fashion is inexorable, and the law must be upheld."

"Whether the fashion or the law, it is wrong. A mother's breast is a
woman's joy."

"Obedience is a woman's highest virtue."

Takara understood fully the force as well as the law of her chosen
lord's argument, though she was none the less aware of her own recourse.
While she felt the chagrin of defeat she realised the danger of appeal;
therefore she concluded to bide her time and make the best use of her
opportunities. Her love for him was not dead, but there was awakening
within her a new light, a better purpose.

Nehachibana, though better informed, had been the more easily deceived.
Not that she in the least misunderstood her husband's motive in foisting
upon her another and a still more unwelcome rival, but that she entirely
mistook Kinsan's position. Nehachibana loved Tetsutaisho--just why she
had never stopped to inquire. If it was because she was his wife, her
love was none the less intense; and because she was in love with him,
she thought every other woman must be--at least all those who evinced
the slightest interest, whether courted or courting. And if she was to
share another portion, she found much consolation if not happiness in
the thought that Takara, too, must lose in like proportion. It was a
reiteration of the old adage that there can be no great loss without
some small gain; a jealous reward and a revengeful satisfaction. She now
pitied Takara and hated Kinsan (in virtue of a community of
feeling)--the one because of her position, the other in consequence of
hers.

The mother's indifference proved to be as great a blessing to Kinsan as
it was a curse to Nehachibana. What the one gained by being let alone
the other lost in virtue of being served likewise, thus results struck a
happy balance. But it was from another source that fear and anxiety came
to both alike, to Nehachibana because of neglect and to Kinsan because
of danger.

As the last sight of the latter's childhood home had vanished from her
view she bent down under the weight of her grief, but when she had
arrived at Tetsutaisho's place of sin and had been brought face to face
with his mock glances she fell upon her knees, not in humble
supplication, but in the full recognition of her weakness. It was then
that she prayed as only one can pray who values life less than honour;
and when the fiendish touch came she did not yield, but shrank from him
and spoke her mind in a voice that is beyond the power of words. Sheer
courage lost him his victim, determination saved her.

Stunned by the force of her great purity, he did not lessen his
persistence, but delayed from time to time a more cowardly intention;
finally there dawned within him the impulse of a purer love, which
gradually overcame his weakness and made it possible to find a better
way. He decided now to hold her in reality as a servant, and on the
seventh day after the birth of the child, himself took it, and carrying
it to Kinsan, placed it in her arms and told her that it should be her
charge. It was a fine, large boy, the eyes and mould revealing its
mother's heritage, and as Tetsutaisho gave Kinsan the baby, he bade her
call it Sodachinojoi, and say nothing more. Then he said to her:

"You have refused me; now you must serve mine. So long as you do that,
and do it well, and as I bid, you shall know no penalty, though it is a
grave sin to oppose your master's will. And when you have done, I shall
trust to gratitude for what you have so persistently withheld. Go now,
and beware of the inquisitive."

"My heart bids me do my part," said she, in answer. "This burden is even
more, it is a blessing. I pray for strength that I may serve well and
please much. The reward is already mine."

"Then you would mock me, heigh? Bring me the child--no; I shall send you
both to the dungeon," and he arose and stood meditating.

"I pray you, sir, send me, but save the child. It is innocent, and it
has a mother. I am unworthy, yet I will pay the penalty. Pray, sir?"

He did not answer at once, but stood regarding her; he may have
marvelled at her charity, possibly he was touched by her tenderness. At
all events he moved closer, and whispered:

"Kinsan, I truly love you."

She did not hear him. Her eyes rested on the child in her arms. She was
thinking of a mother's sorrow, possibly a child's fate. He came close up
and would have touched her had she not shrunk from him and cried:

"I do not comprehend. It is not his voice. It is not true."

"Aha," said Tetsutaisho to himself, as he leaned back in silence. "It is
not I that she disdains, but it is another whom she loves."

Then after a while he addressed her saying:

"Kinsan, I trust you will pardon my incivility. I did not mean to be
rude, though I may deserve your censure. And now that it is done, I do
not want you to feel that it is my heart that is wrong. Do me the honour
to serve this child, and Tetsutaisho shall see to it that the reward be
as you desire. I leave you free to say as much, if it is your pleasure."

"The honour is mine to serve. The pleasure, yours to grant. And is there
any higher?" asked she, confident and earnest.

Tetsutaisho soon after withdrew and left Kinsan to begin her new duties
with a lighter heart and a better confidence. She felt with renewed hope
that there was still a chance for the right. And now that her hands were
no longer idle, she must drive away despair and set about with fresh
courage to make much happiness out of the little that life offered.

She soon learned to love the child, and often took it from the nurse and
held it in her own arms. At dusk of night she would sit for hours,
singing lullabies or reciting favourite poems. Sometimes she peered
dreamily, softly, into the far distance, and then her voice would rise
to the sweet, lonely pitch of the nightingale or deepen into tenderest
pathos. Once these sad, weird strains reached Tetsutaisho's ears, and
they touched him more deeply, strangely, than when he first heard her at
the garden.

"It is her soul speaking its wonderful love," said he to himself, as he
lounged and listened from his own mat on a dark, still night, "and I
would give all that is in this world were that love for me."

Then he asked Ikamon to come to his house and listen in the cool of the
evening to her songs and her poems. No mention was made to her of her
intended audience, for Tetsutaisho had learned her true spirit and was
now beginning to respect her. He would not so intrude as to ask her to
sing; her heart only alone and undisturbed could invoke such melody; yet
he could not resist inviting his friend to share the pleasure of her
voice, though only by chance might they be so privileged. Ikamon came
and he, too, was charmed.

"It is the grandest voice I ever heard," said he, with enthusiasm, as he
arose and thanked his host for the entertainment, preparatory to taking
his leave.



                             CHAPTER XVIII

                          THE VOW OF VENGEANCE


When Ikamon had gone Tetsutaisho retired, and as he did so he went with
the satisfaction of having discovered, as he thought, the secret of his
failure. He had always regarded Kinsan as a prize not to be overlooked,
but had not offered to divine her real charm. His repeated defeat had
not been attributed to that; it was upon baser grounds he had excused
himself and accused her. Her constancy, however, had awakened in him a
better sense of her nature, and he now began to feel the force of her
virtue; but having again mistaken her, and wrongfully attributed her
refusal to the success of a rival, he became mad and vowed vengeance as
well as victory.

"I will hunt him down!" said he to himself, as he entered his den, and
there stayed and fretted, in spite of Takara's repeated urgent calls.
"It is not Kinsan, but her lover that is the real cause of my
discomfiture. Law makes right, and Tetsutaisho shall vindicate the law."

He retired late, but felt himself rewarded by the day's ending. At first
he had really intended to give Kinsan only the care of the child, but
now it occurred to him to make it her own. The power was in his hands;
why not use it? She seemed glad of the care, and it would give her an
occupation, an excuse for being in his house: her lover would divine
another reason.

Takara ought not to suffer much from the loss, and should profit by the
subterfuge. Her birth, her position, her ambition, all demanded a better
protection, a surer disposition. Why not benefit her? There was not a
soul in the house who might be any the wiser, unless it were Michizane,
the poet, and banishment must silence him. That were a simple matter and
Ikamon would attend to it at once. His own devotion to Takara for a
short time should quell any misgivings and allay all feelings on her
part, while a little deception would start everything smoothly on its
proper course.

"I am the man!" thought he, and he slumbered long and in peace.

The next morning he hurried to Takara, and when he had left her she was
thankful for his having come, and less doubtful about his sincerity.
Whether real or not, she realised that the wiser course is to turn a bad
bargain to good use, and resigned herself to the hope, if not belief,
that his plans were for the best and that he would keep his promises.

Before leaving the house for the day Tetsutaisho ran in to see the child
and incidentally make some assurances to Kinsan. She, glad of the
opportunity, resigned herself to her task without questioning too
closely the purpose or thinking much about the outcome. Here at least
was a respite, and anything promising to stay the hand of fate was to
her indeed welcome. Therefore, when Nehachibana came in later in the day
and found Kinsan cooing over a little red baby, all flounced with silk,
a-kicking and a-crying, her face coloured and she began to question its
kindly mistress with something of curiosity, if not suspicion.

"Oh, what a pretty baby!" said she, as she crossed the room and squatted
on the floor in front. "And where did you get it? It is so cunning. Is
it yours? I wish I had a baby like that--so big and bright. But then it
wouldn't have eyes like those, I know. Would it? Let me see your eyes,
Kinsan--I never could tell a baby's mother."

"I shall not let you have this one, though you don't see its mother in
its eyes. It's a good baby, and its name is Sodachinojoi, and no more."

"Oh, what a name! and how? My husband said you are a gardener's
daughter."

"And even so, the breeding may be none the less. I hope you will like
the baby, and I will do all I can to make him worthy of his name and a
joy to us all."

"Why do you not say, 'My baby'? I should, if I had one."

"Then why don't you?" said Kinsan, with much surprise; she still
believing that only Nehachibana could be the mother of her husband's
child, as her own mother had been of all her father's children.

"Take your charge, you impudent thing! I shall never set foot upon your
mat again. No, never!" shrieked Nehachibana, as she pushed the child
toward Kinsan and flew from the room.

Kinsan was not greatly disturbed by Nehachibana's demeanour, though the
thrust was painful and entirely uncalled for so far as she could see or
know. However, she was by this time accustomed to jeers, if not insults,
and did not take the words much to heart, and only thought of how
agreeable it would be should the other make good her threat and stay
away; at least until such time as her understanding prompted a kinder
treatment.



                              CHAPTER XIX

                         THE POET'S BANISHMENT


Nehachibana in a measure made good her threat, and as Tetsutaisho's
mother was devoted more to her own interests than to doubtful infants,
and had always regarded Kinsan with suspicion, she, too, took particular
pains to keep well out of the way. Tetsutaisho soon came to spending
much of his time at army headquarters, at Ikamon's, or at the council
chamber. Takara's sorrow for the loss of her child, which she had not
been permitted to see since it was taken away from her, though in some
degree mitigated--satisfactorily to everybody except Nehachibana--by
Tetsutaisho's devotion, during the little time he now spent at home,
occupied her attention.

Thus affairs at home adjusted themselves, while at state the lordly
general busied himself principally with getting Ikamon to scheme the
banishment and deportation of the pious, harmless old poet and faithful
servant, Michizane. The prime minister was finally induced to urge so
severe a measure, more through his efforts to hush up every possible
chance for a clash between the two rival factions over Takara's strange
and painful situation, than as a personal favour to his friend. The
venerable sage had been her only confidant, as well as a possible
adviser to the enemy; therefore Tetsutaisho not only desired to get rid
of him, but Ikamon deemed it expedient to do so.

Nor had they long to wait the opportunity, for there was at that time
some question as to whether in case of death there was a lawful
successor to the shogun. While the matter was as yet of no real
importance either to the shogunate or the party, it was seized upon and
agitated by Ikamon for a double purpose. Had there been any real
prospects of Iyesada's losing hold on life there might have been
occasion for the great ado which was being made about it; for the shogun
to die without a lawful successor was considered the greatest misfortune
that could befall the nation. The proper degree of interest having been
aroused, and the shogun himself having taken on the desired state of
susceptibility, it was urged upon his highness to call in the customary
wise man without delay; and as Michizane had already become known for
his premonitions, Ikamon had only to mention the poet's name to induce
his selection.

Michizane was sitting at his accustomed place musing the hours away when
a messenger, escorted by two courtiers with large letters emblazoned
upon their uniforms, approached and with much ceremony handed him a
parchment roll. It was the shogun's command, so Michizane trembled as he
broke the seal and read from the long document, which unrolled from his
hand. It was a great honour conferred, even more than he had dared ever
to dream, and charity should pardon the rise of feeling which he then
experienced.

A chair stood outside awaiting his pleasure, and also a regular
cavalcade of guards, runners, carriers, and attendants was there, in
silk and gold, ready to pay him attention. At first he said not a word;
then glancing around and bowing low, signalled his "honourable
informant" to await his "miserable preparation."

After advising his mistress, and receiving her blessing--amid somewhat
of misgivings--he marched down the line and took his place in the
swaying palanquin. Without delay he was carried directly to the hall of
state, where Ikamon met him and, escorting him to a private chamber held
and coached him until the hour of his presentation had arrived. And
while there, the very first thing impressed upon his mind was his
indebtedness to Ikamon and to no other for the honour of his
appointment. He needed no coaching as to the gravity of the situation;
that was a thing to be understood.

"You are to tell the shogun, the supreme administrator of the divine
mikado, the confidant of Ikamon, and the lover of his loyal subjects,
that there is extreme danger of a failure of succession should his
august highness refuse longer to sojourn without the pale of his
reverend predecessors, and that it now becomes your painful duty to
predict the immediate adoption of one Iyemochi, a member of the legion,
and supporter of the cause."

This is what Ikamon told the innocent Michizane to say, yet he knew it
would so enrage the shogun that he would cause the seer forthwith to be
consigned to harakiri or banishment for life. Ikamon had also
anticipated its other effect upon the doubtful Iyesada, causing him to
brood over the succession and finally to carry out the predicted measure
in the hope of warding off an evil hand. The banishment of the poet
would be a welcome thing because it was pleasing to his friend and war
god, Tetsutaisho. The adoption of Iyemochi, a willing tool, would insure
Ikamon's complete domination of the shogunate upon Iyesada's death,
which he thought might be hastened if not occasioned.

Thus Ikamon planned and the proud, puffed-up scholar obeyed; and before
the day had passed Michizane found his vanity gratified and himself
condemned to banishment for the rest of his life. When night came he was
lashed down with cords, and without a parting word carried far away,
never to return.

The oracle had spoken and the bigoted, suspicious Iyesada had believed
it the voice of Ema-O, and knowing of no safer commitment chose the Isle
of Banishment. Nor did this alone satisfy his overwrought conscience,
but immediately the thing was done he called Ikamon and upon his advice
adopted forthwith the child successor, and proclaimed a universal
rejoicing.

The new heir was hailed with acclamation, Ikamon praised for his
cleverness, and Tetsutaisho applauded by his admiring friends; though
new troubles dawned on every side. Takara's eyes opened to her true
situation, and her faithful adherents rallied to plan her deliverance.
Tetsutaisho observed her growing indifference, but crediting it with no
deeper meaning than personal apathy sought in his old way to revive the
spark which so soon seemed all but dead. It was of no use, for Takara
saw farther than he knew.



                               CHAPTER XX

                         THE FORTY-SEVEN RONIN


Takara deeply mourned the fate of Michizane, whom she not only loved but
had revered as the only living representative left to her of a fast
fading memory. She pondered, but wisely held her counsel. Tetsutaisho
did not fathom her, but satisfied himself and reviled her upon shallower
grounds.

When left to his own recourse, shorn of impulse, his understanding
seldom rose above the lesser order. He was big in war, but small in
consequence. Nor was his sympathy any the greater, and when she
remonstrated about her child, he laughed and told her that she, a
daughter of royalty, should be the last to question the wisdom of the
law. He only urged her to forget the circumstance and respect his will.
She acquiesced for the time being, but there was rising within her a
bitter spirit. There was coming a day when the mind, too, should assert
its rank; when the soul should attain its fulness.

"But why are you less ardent?" questioned he, one evening after having
returned from Kinsan's apartments, where, as Takara knew, he was now in
the habit of regularly spending much time.

"Would you ask me why darkness follows light, the earth rotates on its
axis, and flesh turns to stone? I thought you a man of consequence, not
an object of pity," answered she, calmly though earnestly.

Tetsutaisho stood aghast at her daring, yet thought not to search for
its meaning. Had he but looked outside, the veil might have fallen from
his blinded eyes, for the same spirit which moved Takara had roused a
host of valiant defenders. The boldness of Ikamon's stroke had so
stunned the enemy as to irrevocably establish the new order, but not
without inevitably disastrous consequences.

Even to the shogun's supporters, the destruction of the apparently
harmless Michizane, and the advent of the scarcely known child,
Iyeyoshi, seemed so veiled in mystery that many were inclined to believe
that some deep-laid scheme lay behind a rather elusive but possible
trick. In consequence, the shogun, in his weakness, anxious to hide his
stupidity behind some apparent justification, took the burden upon his
own shoulders and thus widened the breach between himself and his true
friends, increasing to that extent his dependence upon Ikamon.

The discontent due to the adoption of an heir to the shogunate became
after a time, however, somewhat allayed; but the curiosity aroused by
the banishment of Michizane increased, and the feeling of unrest at the
mikado's seat grew to such degree that before a year had passed the
south began to assume a resentful if not hostile attitude. Nearly five
years had elapsed since their favourite daughter, Takara, had been
carried away to become the wife of Shibusawa, the most promising of the
young princes under the shogunate. No results had as yet obtained from
this alliance, nor had the restoration of the kuge[12] taken place as
promised. They were dissatisfied, and Takara's misalliance was the first
pretext seized upon to rouse a determined move. Spies had been sent to
Tokyo and the whole truth discovered to a few of the leaders, yet from
policy's sake these reports had been suppressed in the hope of
perfecting a more judicious organisation before the advent of a general
uprising.

This conservatism on the part of the southern leaders baffled Ikamon,
who believed them, like himself, incapable of looking beyond
self-interest for a motive. Others might sacrifice and strive for
humanity, but the sweet-voiced god Oshaka ever whispered in Ikamon's ear
the one word, "Self." It was self that lay at the bottom; self that
raised the human above the brute; self that promised life eternal: the
gods were but self, asserted and ordained, and ordinary man was only the
blind, the halt, the sympathetic. Diplomacy was his weapon, heroism an
humbler man's part.

Tetsutaisho was now too much absorbed with personal affairs even to try
to grasp the outer shreds of a complicated political situation. True, he
had realised in some measure from time to time that an ugly gossip
circulated on the outside as to affairs at his house; yet he was slow to
appreciate its importance, and but for being urged from other sources
would have given it barely passing notice. He busied himself more with
shifting his attentions from a worn love to one that was new though
elusive, and as yet unfound.

Thus Tetsutaisho for once released Takara from his constant attention,
and when she lay down in the freedom of her chamber she marvelled at his
neglect, for she not only knew his real purpose in bringing Kinsan into
the house, but understood his utter failure. She realised that the
innocent girl's struggles had not been in vain, and she gloried in her
virtue. She said to herself:

"What a womanhood! Oh, if I had but known the way! How gladly would I
surrender the wreath of state, the power of kings, for the crown of
purity! But alas! it is not mine. It is only for those who know their
true god. May I never again see mine!"

Then she slept, and she dreamed that she heard Michizane's voice, that
he spoke to her, and that the words were a poem in praise of her
ancestors, that all about was a garden and in it were her friends; that
her soul turned to beauty, and joy came down from Heaven, and all was
peace. She did not wake, but saw Hyaku, the young magician, and felt the
power of his magic, although she could neither move nor speak.

The Band of Forty-Seven had entered Takara's chamber at dead of night,
and placing her in a light chair slung upon the backs of swift carriers,
well disguised, ran with the speed of the hare, the endurance of the ox;
and before they could be overtaken, or it was really known what had
happened, they were at Kyoto, in her own mother's house; when again
Takara saw the hand of Hyaku, and felt its power; she awakened and there
was real gladness in her heart. She made no inquiry as to how it all
happened, or as to the motive which prompted their timely action. She
knew that it was the ronin[13] who fetched her, and that she was welcome
when she got there. Had she known all, she would have understood better
how those trusted men had for days and months waited and watched their
chance to seize and carry her away to her friends; back to the home she
had surrendered to no purpose except that of sorrow and regret.

The news of Takara's return to the home of her childhood, and of the
manner of her escape, soon became known to the immediate friends of
Tetsutaisho's family. Maido paid but little attention to the
circumstance, and thus, probably, gave occasion for the rumour, which
gained some credence, that he had actually winked at her going and was
not particular about her returning. However that may be, his general
failing and prolonged worry over Shibusawa's absence were not a
sufficient shield for his indifference, at least in the opinion of some
of his less intimate friends. Tetsutaisho, more dazed at the audacity of
the ronin than puzzled with the reason for Takara's abduction, at first
inclined toward instituting a vigorous pursuit, but upon second thought
concluded he had best consult his friends before inaugurating any such
serious undertaking.

"It is not so much that I care for the concubine," said he to Ikamon, on
the following day; "it is the vindication of the law that prompts me to
send a detachment for her relief. These bands of marauders must be
suppressed, even at the cost of war upon their stronghold. What safety
is there for a gentleman so long as his castle may be entered and his
property carried away while he sleeps? The next we hear, it will be the
shogun himself of whom we are robbed. Give Tetsutaisho the word, I say,
and he will soon make an end of it--Saigo, the ronin, his dreamers,
Kido, and all."

Ikamon did not fire so easily as to let his enthusiasm run away with his
judgment, yet he was none the less quick to apprehend the danger
confronting them. The paltry sop thrown to Saigo and a few followers had
scarcely touched the lofty progress of the literati. There could be but
one finale: materialism must sooner or later find itself pitted against
patriotism. Iyesada, weak and uncertain, was little to the purpose in a
serious conflict, and no one knew better than Ikamon the over-sensitive
shogun's inclination to side with the last to persuade; of his want of
policy; of his anxiety and bewilderment. He therefore urged upon
Tetsutaisho the necessity of proceeding in the dark and cautiously.

"Keep these fellows at bay," said he, confidentially, "until we can
discover their real purpose and strength. In the meantime Iyesada may
die--Ikamon can then safely devise. The shogunate in the hands of an
infant is better to our purpose. The plans of the mikadate if in our
hands can be made to serve rather than defeat us. I would advise, if
advice be meet, that you send out your spies and keep at home your
force."

Tetsutaisho heeded the warning, and before long copious if not
trustworthy news came from every conceivable source. Iyesada soon died,
and the youthful Iyemochi succeeded as shogun; while Tetsutaisho
marvelled at Ikamon's wisdom, and more than ever resigned himself to the
conquest of more peaceful delights. Kinsan had suddenly become the sole
object of his attention, and for her heart he pressed his suit, more
than ever ardent, if not sincere. Maido, absolved from all these
matters, had more and more devoted himself to the memory of his son, but
now that good news had reached him he rejoiced, and anxiously awaited
the return of Shibusawa.



                              CHAPTER XXI

                            THE HOME-COMING


Maido had not long to wait, though the time seemed never to pass. It was
the first word received from his son, for Shibusawa knew the danger of
even attempting to communicate with either his parent or Kinsan. During
all these years he knew not what effect his departure had wrought at
home, nor of the fortunes of those whom he had left behind. Still he had
always hoped for the best, and when he had definitely made up his mind
to return he so managed to forward the letter of advice as to bring it
safely to Maido's hand; arriving, as it happened, only a few days after
Takara had been seized and carried away by the ronin, and none too
early, for Shibusawa himself came soon thereafter.

To avoid possible compromise Shibusawa had couched the letter in such
terms that no one but a father could be the wiser for its contents;
therefore no dates were fixed, and the anxious daimyo had only to wait,
and for hours sat watching the gate in front. These were suspicious
times at Tokyo, hence no preparations could be made for the home-coming,
nor information given out, save Maido's instructions to the faithful
Okyo. Thereafter no arrival escaped that one's vigilant eye, and when
the expected ship had safely arrived at Yokohama he was there on hand
with an extra pilgrim's outfit on his back.

Late the next evening they two reached home, and Shibusawa, footsore and
weary, hurried up the pathway and into the house, where he bowed low at
his father's feet. Neither attempted to speak. When Shibusawa had
changed his clothing they sat in the cool of the evening, for it was now
late in June, enjoying the breeze that floated in from the bay in the
distance. The family brazier was again brought out, and they sat and
smoked and talked the hours away.

"And now, father," said the son, after they had talked much about the
family and things at home, "you must lie down and sleep, and to-morrow I
shall tell you all about myself. I know you are anxious to hear, but you
must rest now, and then the story will be the more pleasing. You need
have no fear but you shall hear it all--I am returned, and I promise I
shall not soon again leave you. Goodnight, and peace for you."

They had no sooner parted and the father gone to sleep than Shibusawa
hastened to change his dress and once again find his way to the hidden
cave. The time seemed long to him since he had last been there, and now
that he was about to go again he felt that he never would get started.
Just why he wanted to hurry there he did not know; possibly he had not
consulted reason; yet it was his only hope, and that was enough to impel
him to go.

As he approached the familiar gate where he had so often passed he
observed that new locks hung from the latches; that the old guard had
gone; that a haughty, "Who goes there?" greeted his ears, and suddenly
it appeared to him that a great change had taken place. He realised for
the first time that he was no longer in the land which he had left only
a few years before; that here, too, the seed of progress had been sown,
and that already new sprouts were bursting forth. He marvelled at the
new order, and a fresh desire came upon him. Suddenly he turned upon the
trusty, and in answer said convincingly:

"A friend."

He knew it was of no use to deny his purpose or make any extended
explanation; neither was he willing nor the guard desirous that he
should. Under the circumstances just one thing would gain his
admittance; none in that land knew better than Shibusawa, the newly
returned, just what results could be obtained by the judicious use of
money. So, when the pompous keeper jerked his steel from the hip and
held it abreast his chin, with firm footing and erect body, Shibusawa
did not weaken in the least, but boldly approached and unconcernedly
dropped a coin in the fellow's convenient hand.

"All's well!" shouted the subdued guard, as he turned his back and
lowered his arms, the while Shibusawa raised the latch and entered at
one side the ponderous gate.

He did not hesitate nor give the matter further thought, but hurried on
toward the place which to him bore the most pleasant memory of his life.
Each pebble seemed a guide post, and every step an inspiration. He
tramped on without either stopping or lagging until the hill had been
scaled, and then there came over him grave feelings of doubt and of
dread. The pathway was no longer clear. The entrance was a tangled
thicket of brier and weeds. He made further progress with difficulty,
and when he had reached the mouldy place no friendly sight greeted his
eyes. Years of abandonment had obliterated everything except her memory.
He paused and looked around, then shuddered, and stumbled toward that
side where once the stone steps had marked the entrance. They were still
bare, though unused; no trash had gathered there. They were yet as
undefiled as they were on the day he had found Kinsan lying upon them.
He sat down and searched among the stars for an answer to his heart's
yearnings.

Long he studied as to what had been her fate. Each new thought stirred
him to greater determination, every discouragement moved him to plan
afresh. He must find her; yet he sat with his face buried in his hands;
despair overshadowed him. Then he thought of the old hiding-place, where
in days gone by they were wont to secrete such messages as were sacred
to them alone. He arose and climbed up to the entrance as if it were but
yesterday that he had been there.

He raised the wisteria, which had grown heavy and more dense. Inside the
walled den, the webs stretched thicker and stronger than before. Here
and there a spider paused, then ran his way. There was no sound, yet a
voice bade him enter. He searched, and in the centre found two stones,
placed one on top of the other. He knew they were placed there not by
accident. Fear overcame him, and he stood breathless, yet powerless.
Then he stooped and raised the stone, which revealed a message that to
him was sweeter, dearer than all the world.

He hastened back to the cave, and seating himself on the stone steps,
where he had pressed her close to him and listened to her golden words
of confidence, broke the seal from which there unfolded a musty sheet
that in the light of a smiling moon again spoke her heart's content:

    "DEAR LOVE:

    "It is for you that I write. None other is worth the while. I am
    going to-morrow where fate has called me. I have little to
    offer, except an undying love; all else is theirs; it is decreed
    right. But so long as the soul is and the heart beats, this love
    shall be yours and only yours. The spirit which gave it to you
    shall keep it for you.

    "Oh, decree of man, where is your relish! I bow to your will,
    but in him is my god. My Shibusawa, my love, my light! In you
    life still has hope. Death shall meet its reward. Think of me a
    little, do not judge me harshly, let me live as my heart tells
    me, and I shall die happy. The troubles of the earth will be as
    the joys of heaven, and you shall be the hand that guides me,
    saves me--oh, I love you so! I cannot live except for you, I
    shall not die without you.

    "Believe me, your true love, your sweetheart,

                                                                "K."

The puzzled man read the note again and again with care, then leaned
back in silence. He had divined only too truly her fate, and when he
thought that possibly she, too, had been put up to the highest bidder, a
feeling of faintness took hold of him and he bent forward and sat for a
long time unable to move or to decide.



                              CHAPTER XXII

                        A MEETING IN THE GARDEN


The cock had already crowed before Shibusawa reached his chamber and lay
down to rest. He could not sleep, but arose and went for a walk in the
woodland bordering the castle grounds. Here he searched out a secluded
spot, where he sat down in the light of early morning to think and plan.
The air was still and the sun just beginning to pierce the cool shade of
the forest, with here and there a ray of warmth. Presently the quiet was
broken by the sound of footsteps approaching through the garden, and
looking up he saw Maido coming toward him.

"Are you here, too, and so early?" said the daimyo, with a ring of
gladness that came from his heart. "I thought only the elders, like me,
enjoyed a sunrise jaunt among the stately sentinels of time. Come, my
lordship, join me and I'll show you how a son's return affects a
father's legs. It's many a day since these old stokies of mind served me
as they have this morning. It reminds me of the time when a mother
brought you to my side. A happy day it was, and she lies up yonder, my
boy, in the tomb, behind the temple. You may not dislike going there
with your father--will you, this morning?"

Shibusawa may have anticipated the idea, for they set off together
toward the family shrine. The distance was not great nor the hill steep;
just enough to quicken old age and banter youth.

They did not tarry long at the tomb,--only long enough to revere the
dead and inspire the living,--but soon arose and retraced their steps a
short distance to where they seated themselves in the shade of the
temple. As they sat they could see afar over the samurai dwellings and
the noised-up city to the glassy bay in front, or over the castle
grounds to the left, or to the timbered hills on the right. There they
sat and talked at will. Now and then the conversation drifted back to
Shibusawa's absence, and each experience related touched more deeply the
father's slow but certain apprehension.

"I dare say there are no temples in that far-away land," said the lord
daimyo, more inquisitive than positive.

"Oh, yes, there are," was the young prince's quick rejoinder, "only they
are much larger and less beautiful. They worship in herds in that
country; and they have a paid supplicant to do the honours, while the
multitude sit and gape and snore. It's a great saving of time and
trouble, this European method of salvation."

"And have they gods?"

"Oh, yes; they have a God. The principle is just the same. It's only the
form that makes it different from ours."

"Ah, the practice! And after all, that is man's only reality: the ideal
is the grander existence. And do these strange worshippers have
habitations, and go about clad as we do?"

"They have houses--ours are not like theirs, thanks to good fortune--in
which the idea, as in their churches, is to get as many under one roof
as possible. They build floor over floor, and then wear their lives out
climbing from one to the other. They are not only herders but climbers
as well. Then the craze to encroach one upon another is so great that
all try to live at a few isolated spots. There are millions of broad
acres--the area is so great that for want of a comparison I cannot
convey to you anything but a hazed idea--upon which the sun shines and
over which the fresh air circulates, yet these people hang out of
ten-story windows and pant for breath or hide away in some dark, damp
rooms and stare their eyes out under the glare of firelight."

"Horrors! my son. And they would teach us how to live?"

"Not only that, but they cover the streets with rock and steel and then
force iron-wheeled cars over the rough surface or harsh-sounding rails
until the roar and the clatter make them deaf or drive them insane."

"Shocking!"

"And when they sleep at night they huddle together under the same quilt,
and when they arise and go about their walled dens or out upon the
filth-breeding, dust-driven streets they cover themselves with all sorts
of coarse material far rougher than our matting on the floor or the
material with which we sack our products of the field. Their feet are
bound up in close-fitting skins on which are nailed or sewn stiff
leather soles, and their heads are weighted down with all manner of hot,
ill-shaped and wind-catching hats or other gear."

"And is such their clothing?"

"Yes. And it is fashioned, mostly, so as to expose as much as possible
the person's form, or its lines, and it may be worn, or donned, in
piecemeal. It is only to be commended for street sweeping or fly
baiting. And what a mixture; and so untidy and so uncomfortable! It
makes me creep all over when I think of it, and of how they swelter on a
hot day and freeze on a cold one."

"What barbarians!"

"And their food! Well, I can best impress you with that by saying that
the cooks and doctors constitute a large percentage of the population,
and that the mortality resulting from the strife carried on between the
two classes, the one tearing down and the other building up, is hardly
less than frightful. The science of both is a constant assault upon the
stomach, with the odds so overwhelmingly in favour of the cooks that
life is reduced to an average period of only some thirty-three years.
And the taste, and the smell! Well, either is farthest removed from
nature's storehouse, and that is enough said, I warrant."

"And that is where you have been seeking knowledge all this time?"

"Yes; I spent only four of the five years at college, learning how to
cheat. Yes, cheat; that is the thing. First man, then nature. The
former, because it is easy; the latter, because it is progress. And if
the fructifications of a scientist, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a
preacher, or a merchant, do not meet with your ideas of success, then
try the fortunes of a statesman or a warrior; and what you cannot get by
diplomacy, force with powder and shot."

"And that is what you call Christian civilisation?"

"It is so called."

"Then shame!"

"Even so, their progress is none the less."

"What is the secret?"

"The machine."

The conversation broke off there and they both sat for a long time
absorbed in study. The one looked backward, the other forward. Neither
was satisfied; man never is.

Presently Shibusawa began rambling over his experiences, relating first
an incident and telling afterwards of a conquest. His father's spirits
rose, and they laughed or marvelled together as an amusing episode or an
awkward situation came to mind. He told of how fortune had compelled him
to work his passage and earn his way from the time he left his native
land until he had returned; of how he had pushed on from place to place
until the American continent had been crossed, and how in the great city
of New York he had struggled to complete a course in college. And withal
he had been studious and so frugal that by the time he was graduated he
had saved enough from his earnings to pay his passage to Europe, thence
home again via the Suez Canal and Hong Kong.

His experiences had been somewhat unpleasant at first, but as time
passed and he had become accustomed to work he did not find the
necessities of the situation so irksome. Upon the whole he felt
contented with results, and believed that his search for knowledge had
not been amiss. Although he had been subjected to keen humiliation and
had met with much hardship, he harboured no ill-feeling toward the new
civilisation which he had encountered. He freely acknowledged that he
appreciated the impossibility of any assimilation between the Occident
and the Orient, and felt that while the one sojourned with the other he
needs must suffer a disadvantage.

"While I regret that I have given you cause for so much anxiety,"
continued Shibusawa, "I feel that I have done nothing to disgrace you,
and that the experience and knowledge gained will sometime serve us
well. In all things pertaining to life there must be a beginning, and
that I have been a pioneer I do not regret. I shall always endeavour to
make the best use of my opportunities, and I am now ready to take my
proper place."

"You have spoken well, my son, and Maido is proud."

Soon after, though late in the morning, they arose and wended their way
toward the castle, and as they went their interest gradually drifted to
matters at home, including the marriage of Nehachibana. Maido told his
son all about Takara's recent disappearance from Tokyo, but mentioned
only casually her sojourn with the Tetsutaishos. Though deeply
interested Shibusawa showed little concern about his wife, and no
criticisms were offered; he appreciated his father's situation in the
matter and resolved to be considerate. A deeper thought began to
reassert itself, growing anxiety took hold of him, and he soon became
wrapped with care only for Kinsan.



                             CHAPTER XXIII

                           AN UNEXPECTED CALL


Upon Shibusawa's arrival at the mansion he separated from his father
and, going to his own apartments, lay down to rest. The relaxation, due
to a change of solicitude, overcame his feverish anxiety and soon put
him fast asleep. When he arose, late in the afternoon, he set about his
duties as if no serious problem had ever entered his life, and when he
met Ikamon, his first caller, he proved himself the master of his own
situation.

The news of Shibusawa's return had soon spread, though it created little
interest beyond the circle of his immediate family. There was a time
when such an occurrence would have been heralded as an important event,
but now the lord daimyo no longer held the sway he once did. True, there
was no falling off in his power, and indirectly no slackening of his
influence; still that influence had come to be exercised largely through
the medium of Ikamon, and Maido's wealth and position were more and more
accounted as the latter's strength.

Going away from home at so early an age and remaining away for so long a
time, Shibusawa had never become well known at Tokyo, and almost ceased
to be taken into account in reckoning the family's political or social
status. Though Maido's neglect, occasioned largely by grief for his
absent son, had enabled Ikamon to gradually appropriate to his own use
the family's place and wealth, it was not so intended; and nobody knew
better than the wily son-in-law himself that default rather than purpose
permitted him to enjoy the almost unlimited use of another's fortune.
When Shibusawa returned, Ikamon therefore hastened to cultivate with the
son that same friendly intercourse which he had always enjoyed with the
father. In consequence he extended to his relative a hearty greeting,
which to his surprise met with a generous response.

This readiness to take the hand of fellowship did not arise from any
lack of understanding, nor could its motive be in the least questioned.
Shibusawa desired to cultivate a better acquaintance with his father's
associates and contemporaries as well as to meet and revive old
friendships. Persistency rapidly bore its fruit, for not alone his rank,
but his superior education and polish gave him place, while his quiet,
unobtrusive manner brought him into respect with all the more
progressive of the shogun's court.

In matters of state Maido had gradually released his hold, and now that
he had grown old and less inclined to assume the responsibility he began
to long for the freedom of the country. The son, as best he could,
assumed those duties which of necessity must sooner or later have
devolved entirely upon him, and together they planned so well that by
autumn they were enabled to determine upon returning for an indefinite
period to their home province, Kanazawa.

"Your long continued and able service," said Ikamon with enthusiasm,
when advised of their plans, "demands some recognition at the hands of
those who can ill afford to lose your presence at court. And to me, sir,
it is the greatest pleasure of my life to offer some entertainment to my
friends and to your friends and to be permitted the privilege. Come, my
good Maido, you shall not say no, and Shibusawa, I venture, will not."

"My son-in-law, my Ikamon, your good protestations overwhelm me. I
certainly do not deserve such kindly notice. I cannot make you a ready
answer--Shibusawa, will you be so good as to speak for me?"

"Yes, father," said the son, politely bowing. "If his highness, the
prime minister, so desires, I feel that it is a great privilege to
acknowledge the honour."

"And Ikamon shall make the occasion worthy the guests," said the
designing official, enthusiastic over the prospects.

Now Maido and his family could not make so important a move without
first obtaining the consent of the shogun, and as this rested primarily
with the prime minister, Shibusawa may have had good reason for so
quickly acceding to the doing of what he knew to be tainted with
something more than mere friendship. They earnestly desired the
privilege of absenting themselves from the capital, not alone that Maido
might enjoy the freedom of his former life and the intercourse with his
people, but that Shibusawa might begin his active career at home, where
he could better become acquainted, and familiarise himself with the
needs and resources of the prefecture. Maido, now in his declining
years, also craved the liberty of his child's companionship freed from
the cares of court life, especially that there were no pressing duties
at the capital. He therefore set forth his reasons and requests in a
letter, forthwith despatched to the department.

The answer soon came back at the hands of Ikamon himself, who, as a mark
of extreme deference, took along for the first time his respected wife,
Yasuko, a courtesy which so pleased Maido that he never forgot the
incident. Indeed, they were received with so much cordiality that the
set call was soon turned into an informal affair, and the little party
did not break up until a late hour. After refreshments had been served
they sat pleasantly chatting, the two elders about matters interesting
to them, thus leaving Yasuko and Shibusawa to indulge themselves as they
liked.

It was Shibusawa's first real opportunity to hear the neighbourhood
gossip, and while not at all a busybody he took advantage of the
occasion to learn some of the doings affecting him most. But Yasuko was
little given to gadding about, and in consequence not as conversant with
the neighbourhood affairs as some others. Indeed, she had never heard of
such a person as Kinsan,--nor did Shibusawa suspect that she had ever
had an opportunity or reason to hear of one in her caste,--therefore,
however much desired, though not expected, he gained no information in
that direction.

"I do wish you would try to see Nehachibana before you go away to
Kanazawa. I fear it may be a long time, Shibusawa, before you shall
again have a chance." said Yasuko, earnestly, while they were alone and
out of hearing distance of the rest of those present.

"I should very much like to," answered he, interestedly; "but I am so
prejudiced against that husband of hers, Tetsutaisho, that I almost
dread to go."

"But she is so disconsolate! And, poor thing, she is jealous, and yet so
wrapped up in him. I wonder she does not do some dreadful thing."

"I presume I shall have to go there or not see her at all."

"She seldom goes away from the house, and when she does her
mother-in-law goes foremost, you can be sure of that."

"Well, I shall manage in some way before I go, though probably it will
not be until later. I shall have to encounter the husband first."

"Oh, do, Shibusawa; I shall be so glad, and I know it will cheer her up.
You remember that she was always so fond of you, and you may be able to
encourage her. Please do not fail."

"Very well; I promise you."

Presently Ikamon came toward them, and the conversation was changed to
something less personal. Then after a few pleasantries the callers began
to make ready to take leave.

"I dare say," said Ikamon, adroitly, as they were about to leave the
house, "Yasuko has enjoyed this evening; her brother is seldom absent
from her mind, and did I not share the same good trait I certainly
should be a little jealous. Yes, sir; we think of you and your good
father often, and we regret to see you going so far away from us. Yet we
hope that the country will not hold you long, and that you will soon be
returning to the capital, where you are so exceedingly welcome, and so
illy spared."

While it pleased Shibusawa to see such good cheer and hear praise
bestowed upon his father, the encomium did not in any manner carry him
away nor cause him to suspect the giver; he merely passed it by as a
personal trait, without any regard to the real source of its apparent
emanation. Secretly he had long ago determined that he and his family,
or any other, would be courted just so long as they made themselves
worth the while. He appreciated Ikamon's kindness in suggesting the
entertainment, and, regardless of the motive or consequences, proposed
to enjoy such benefits as were of right his portion, so long as no moral
or material right was infringed upon.

After consulting Maido's convenience as to the time of the
entertainment, Ikamon and his wife withdrew amid hearty salutations and
started toward their home. The sky was clear and the moon up as they
sped along in the cool of night, listening to the patter of the
carriers' feet, or looking out upon the world of beauty around them.
Theirs was a happy contrast with those less fortunate, for--even in
feudal Japan--this mighty statesman once delved into mother earth for
meagre sustenance. There, too, the lowly rose to power and fame, and, as
the great minister leaned back under the golden canopy and sniffed the
balmy air floating in at the open sides, he marvelled at his own success
and swelled with pride at his extraordinary rise.

"It is the power of logic that sends men on their destined way. The sway
of chance or the hand of justice has little to do with the mysteries of
man's universe; it is the certainty of the thing that counts for much.
The success makes right, and Ikamon knows no wrong," said he to himself
as they came close to their gilded mansion and a hundred tired backs
welcomed the small relief.

Ikamon arose and stepped out of the tasselled chair, and stood waiting
to assist Yasuko. Ready and willing maids had already spread the leopard
skin, and as she thrust forward her dainty, white stockinged feet, two
gold-lacquered shoes were placed for them. Her husband extended his
hand, and she arose, gracefully walking toward the house where is known
"the golden crow" and "the jewelled hare," the law's luxury and man's
inheritance.

The prime minister drew from his girdle a string of "cash" which he
scattered, and a horde of thankful underlings scrambled for the bounty.
He too entered the privileged house, and soon after, taking his proper
leave, retired to his own chamber, where he planned and schemed the
grandest geisha party that his age had known.



                              CHAPTER XXIV

                            THE GEISHA PARTY


The giving of a geisha party such as Ikamon proposed involved no small
amount of preparation and entailed much thought and care, yet when the
"Harvest Moon" came--for that was the time selected--everything had been
gotten in readiness, and Maido and his family occupied their booth,
surrounded by all that luxury and refinement could offer to still the
cares of man. Shibusawa entered into the spirit of the occasion with
every possible determination to do his part, but down in his heart there
lived a yearning, and with each repeated failure came a corresponding
hope for Kinsan. He had sought her long and earnestly, and now grasped
at each straw. "Would she, could she be there that night?"

The young prince could not avoid facing Takara, who sat to his left,
across the big auditorium, and each look from her burned into him a
still deeper sense of his ingratitude. Tetsutaisho occupied an adjoining
booth, and no color in Shibusawa's cheek escaped his eye. An inner
consciousness smote him, and he looked out into the brilliant scene
before him for relief.

And as he became transported, that subtile, elusive something seemed all
but there, for the geisha party, the universal and proper form, probably
fits the case quite as well as any other opera or means devised for the
diversion of mankind. Here, in ancient Japan, it is the very acme of
united, contributive art, and whether the affair be a small or a grand
one matters not; the ever festive and elastic geisha meets the
emergency. If but the modest return of a chance relation, whereupon the
trifling consequences of a happy trade in jack-knives is discussed, or
if it be the social fête, where the destinies of a monarch are framed
and harangued, the geisha party is the occasion, and it stands for all
that opportunity may or can require. No demand can be too exacting, no
hope too flattering. It paves the way to good-fellowship, and inspires
the heart to nobler deeds. Ikamon chose it as a means for bringing
together the best in the land, and he used it as an instrument to touch
them, to sway and move them.

The matter of finding a suitable place had worried him, and going in
person to all of the noted tea houses, one after another, he discarded
them as being inadequate or impracticable. Ryogoku, Tsukiji, Asakusa,
and others in turn were visited, and none offered suitable
accommodation. His wants were exacting, and as he went from place to
place his imagination grew and requirements multiplied beyond all hope
of fulfilment.

Uyeno pleased him most; here he found at least an ideal spot, endowed by
nature with all that is lofty and inspiring. The spacious park lay upon
a gently sloping hillside, terminating in a high promontory, jutting out
over the nestling roof tops far below. From the quiet of its level there
stretched away to the right, to the left, and in front, a million
earnest, faithful homes. The glistening, silvered waters in the distance
had again and again marked the stately course of the splendid "Harvest
Moon" in her onward march with time, while from the background came the
breathless hush of the forest, the silent mysteries of the gloom, the
awakening of the spirit world. He returned to it a second and a third
time, studied the situation at its best, then decided.

"The 'Harvest Moon' is the time," said he, with ecstasy, "and the
shogun's command will amply build the playhouse. I shall begin without
delay."

The prime minister returned to his home much pleased with himself and
fully satisfied with his opportunities. True, the allotted few weeks
were a short time, but what mattered that when he had only to advise and
the scene of his intended activities would swarm with a myriad of
workers. And then the applause for its doing!--for Ikamon loved gain,
and he knew of no surer means than the approval of his countrymen. He
said to himself:

"There have been geisha parties before, other fêtes of note, but it is
now Ikamon's turn. Why not only outstrip the past, but anticipate the
future?"

In consequence the necessary work was begun and the party launched by
the most sweeping and unheard of orders. As in the matter of
construction, the invitations had been issued under order of the shogun,
and no royal personage or noble blood of the sex was overlooked or
neglected. Messengers despatched in every direction had set moving long
before the harvest moon had risen many gorgeous trains; for no host or
guest in that land was held in better esteem than Maido, the lord daimyo
of Kanazawa. They came from north and south, from the loyal and the
opposition, from kuge and bakufu.[14] All were his friends, and none
would miss an opportunity to enjoy the hospitality that flowed from the
shogun's seat like balm in Gilead or wine from a Circean cup.

They came, and when they had arrived they beheld the grandest spectacle
that they had ever known. Many thousands had laboured hard to set the
scene and perfect the play. Early in its inception Ikamon had instructed
Tetsutaisho as to his portion; whereupon the responsive commander
constructed around the plot of a hundred acres a living wall, in which
each stone was a trained soldier and every picket a sharpened steel.

Such a massing of troops had never before been seen, and Tetsutaisho had
not only girdled the festive place with a brilliant setting, but taught
those lords and barons a lesson in fanciful show that convinced them of
the shogun's effective strength. The human fence ended only at either
side of the promontory, whereat gates were placed, over which a thousand
blades stood guard. No force could pass that barrier. To them it seemed
insurmountable from without and impenetrable from within.

Within the cordon of militia, however, the real wonders of the place
began to unfold. Passing through the gate the guests were taken in hand
and ushered along down the lines of dazzling soldiery toward the lower
end of the park, where stood a dark, dense forest. Here they suddenly
left the bright lights behind and were made to grope their way through
the woods to the yawning entrance of an underground cave. Thence through
its gloomy caverns beset with all the horrors of an imagined hades they
hurried until they had finally emerged into the brilliant lights of the
grand auditorium.

On the left side of the entrance was the mikado's booth, and on the
right the shogun's: neither was better or grander than the other, but
both were covered with gorgeous brocades of maple leaves and banked with
solid walls of chrysanthemums. Coloured lanterns hung between the
pillars in front, and open windows looked out at the back upon the city
below. From the two gala booths in the centre, the royal booths
stretched out on either side, skirting the brow of the hill, in the
shape of a crescent, graduating in size to correspond to the several
grades of nobility. To the stage in front alternate beds of flowers and
open boxes, with here and there a mat-covered aisle, occupied the space.
The boxes were laid with soft mats and lined with silk, while the booths
were made of gold or black lacquer, with tiger or leopard skins on the
floor, as suited the rank of the occupant.

Shibusawa looked out under the high roof, with its thousand-tinted,
leaf-covered cone, emblazoned with dazzling lights and brilliant
foliage, at the red-lacquered stage, festooned with wisteria and lined
with the beautiful bell-shaped asagao. The guests were already seated in
their flowing robes of silk and purple amid garlands of flowers and
booths of gold, and the players began to make their appearance.

Three hundred geisha singers dressed in flaming uniforms, wearing costly
jewels in their hair, came first, seating themselves in three rows
across the front of the stage, with the samisens[15] first, the
kokyus[16] next, and the kotos last. Next after these came nine hundred
geisha dancers, who ranked in lines at both sides and at the rear of the
stage. After them one hundred geisha singers, whose simple coiffures and
freedom from ornamentation bespoke their purity, came in and grouped
themselves in the centre of the stage. All held themselves in readiness
to begin the play. Presently the music began in faint, weird strains,
and as the time quickened the dancers began to sway, and as the pitch
rose the singers began to chant; and when all seemed a living, moving,
sounding picture, the ranks parted and down between them softly stepped
a maiden whose charm and ease of manner made breathless the waiting
listeners.

As she approached the centre of the stage, the music lowered, the
dancers slowed, and the singers gradually stopped; then her voice began
its soft, enchanting notes. Every man leaned forward speechless; and as
she sang her song of love they were thrilled with the wondrous message
of her heart. In that vast audience there was one who understood the
language of her pathos, who communed with her soul.

It was Shibusawa; and not words, but actions revealed the secret of his
feelings. He sat in his booth, leaning over, and silent. He did not
grieve, nor exult, but sat there a dweller in another world. It was one
from the spirit land with whom he spoke. She told him she loved him; her
voice, not words carried the message, spoke the language of her soul. He
listened, and when the farewell came would have gone to her, thrown
himself at her feet, had not his strength failed him. He hesitated, and
upon regaining his composure Kinsan had gone--he knew not where.

Tetsutaisho sat near Shibusawa, and he too felt the force of her great
melody, and knew that some inward action moved her. He had long before
guessed her secret, and Shibusawa's strange emotion now impressed him.
Instinctively connecting the two, though holding his own counsel, he
knew from that day who his rival was, and he felt that her song had won
for her its reward. He chided himself for having yielded to Ikamon's
entreaty, and wished that he had denied even his best friend the favour
of her loan. It was now too late. The mistake had been made beyond
rectifying.

Kinsan had not observed Shibusawa, or at least did not distinguish him
in the audience, but sang purely and simply from her heart. No incentive
moved her, nor did she heed the elegance, or feel the great honour she
had gained. She was conscious of only one, and in another world poured
out her soul's desire; and thus without being aware of it brought to her
feet the noble, royal sons of a nation, made them her slaves, and went
forth from that scene the most famed of her sex.

Thenceforth it was "Kinsan, The Nightingale," and she bore well the
sobriquet.



                              CHAPTER XXV

                          THE UNHAPPY MEETING


The beautiful song of the unknown star had stimulated the most hearty
good cheer, and the playing, feasting, and conversation did not wane
until a late hour. And when the festivities had ended, Ikamon was
accounted the prince of entertainers; while Shibusawa confronted a new
danger.

When the guests had gone home his father began making preparations to go
to Kanazawa. Maido, pleased with the reception accorded him, felt highly
complimented for his long and faithful services at the capital. He
deemed it a fitting finale to what he considered the close of his active
public career, and the honour seemed to him a splendid reward. And now
that so much had been done by his friends in appreciation of his
services and in recognition of his retirement, he believed himself in
duty bound to show his proper regard by making his exit as elaborate as
his circumstances would permit. Therefore he called his son to him and
said:

"Shibusawa, we have been honoured at the hands of our friends and
especially are we under obligation to the court. Let us be equally
generous in our withdrawal from life at the capital, and depart with a
procession that will show due appreciation, and declare our loyalty to
his august highness. We have always been modest in our pretensions, and
I believe that some such demonstration would not be unfitting or beneath
the dignity of our station. What do you say, my son?"

"If it is your pleasure, I certainly can see no valid objection. We need
not be ashamed of such showing as we can make, and real display is
sometimes a good promoter and always a splendid encouragement. What can
I do to be of service?"

"Please consider yourself my guest; that will better suit me, since it
may be my last opportunity. Once the young get a good hold, there is
little chance for the fathers. Let me do the thing once more, then
surrender to you. The last is the greater."

"Very well, if you like, Shibusawa will obey; there is no greater
pleasure, nor higher honour."

Shibusawa not only wished to please his father but was glad for the
opportunity to occupy himself in another way. Since his startling
discovery of Kinsan he had resolved to find her and claim her, whatever
might be the cost. He reasoned that his agitation upon seeing Kinsan on
the stage would be passed as merely an incident, and that no explanation
would be required; and that he take no steps that might involve his
family, he deemed it advisable to keep his own counsel until, if
necessary, developments necessitated some sort of disclosure.
Tetsutaisho had said nothing, and in consequence Shibusawa did not know
of any suspicion on his part; and being entirely unaware of Kinsan's
residence he had, of course, no reason whatever to suppose that she was
domiciled at his brother-in-law's house. His idolised queen had appeared
to him as if in a vision, and the more he pondered the situation the
more deeply he became perplexed.

And as the days rapidly passed and his allotted time shortened,
Shibusawa began to grow nervous and despair of his mission. All his
friends with whom he could discuss the new prima donna were even more
than he in the dark; they had never heard of her and like himself could
get no information as to where she could even be found. He rightly
refrained from saying anything to Ikamon, the only person besides
Tetsutaisho who could have informed him; and even had he approached him
he would have received no encouragement, for the prime minister had
promised faithfully to keep her identity a secret. From day to day the
disconsolate young prince went from friend to friend and place to place
discussing the crowning feature of the big event, in hope of getting
some bit of information that would serve as a clue. In geisha circles
they were equally mystified, and from that source no encouragement could
be offered. He became disheartened, though more than ever resolved.

The time for his departure from the city had already arrived, and before
going he set out to make his sister, Yasuko, a parting call. While
there, she for a second time cautioned him about his going to see
Nehachibana; whereupon he promised forthwith to go and bid his favourite
sister farewell, even though he had not as yet made up his mind to
forgive or become friendly with her husband. Shortening his visit with
Yasuko, accordingly, he kept his promise and immediately went to call
upon Nehachibana.

It was a gloomy day, and the clouds hung low and drove cold the chill of
autumn. The dusk of night already overshadowed the earth and he felt
uneasy, much disliking to disturb even his sister at so late an hour;
yet he knew that it would be his only chance, for on the morrow he must
make ready to take his departure. As he approached the house no one
greeted him; he hesitated; resolving to meet her if possible, he pressed
forward, making known his desire to see Nehachibana, his sister.

He had not long to wait, however, for she came in person and greeting
him warmly bade him enter the house and sit in her own chamber. Here
they sat and sat, he listening, and she pouring out her troubles--it had
been her first opportunity in all those pent-up years. Again and again
they had drained their teacups when, flushed and excited, she said:

"Yes, there is a son, and you must know its mother. I will show it to
you and then you can better appreciate my terrible sorrow. Oh, I cannot
bear it longer! It will kill me, and yet it is no fault of mine. I have
been a dutiful wife, and I have the only right to be the mother of his
children. Tell me, Shibusawa, my brother, is there no help for woman?"

"It is the law of the land, Nehachibana, and as long as it is such, it
is our duty to abide by its decree."

"But the law is so unjust!"

"The injustice is in the making of it. But there, now, let us not
discuss that any further. You have done your part, and I will venture it
is better a husband whom you love, than a wife who loves your husband.
Come, now, when shall I expect you to pay us a visit in the country?"

"I wish you were not going so far. I am seldom allowed such a privilege,
and were I--oh, that other one! I should never give her the
satisfaction. I hate her! I love--oh, I dare not, I cannot go away! Come
with me, now, won't you? I want you to see--to see with your own eyes--I
shall have revenge!"

"But you must not, my dear Nehachibana. It is not she that has wronged
you; and it is a terrible thing to misjudge. Better suffer the wrong;
the charity will repay you the sacrifice."

"Then look, as I have done these many days, and you will know better a
woman's way. It is an image of the devil, and its eyes rivet me. Come?"

"To please you, Nehachibana."

Nehachibana arose and stealthily disappeared; in a few moments she
returned and, scarcely speaking above a whisper, bade Shibusawa follow.
Guiding him through several rooms, into a long passageway, thence to a
chamber out of which a soft light shone through the frail paper
partition, she cautioned him, then pushed back the slide a little and
beckoned him approach. Kinsan sat in deep thought near a small screen,
with the child fondled in her lap, and for the moment did not observe
their entrance. She had often been intruded upon in such a manner and
therefore paid little heed. Perhaps she meditated the night of her début
upon the stage; or she may have been thinking of another time when all
the world seemed glorified to her. The visitors approached, however, and
their stockinged feet made hardly any noise on the soft, matted floor.
They came at Kinsan's back, partly sidewise, and when not too far away
Nehachibana clutched at Shibusawa's kimono and pointing her bony finger
at the child, leaned forward and said, almost breathlessly:

    [Illustration: Kinsan sat in deep thought ... with the child
    fondled in her lap.]

"It is he!"

She trembled violently, and her eyes stared wildly as they came in
contact with the child. Until Nehachibana spoke, Kinsan had not
recognised them, nor would she then have done so had not Shibusawa
sprung forward to save Nehachibana from falling as she reeled and lost
her balance. Shibusawa had recognised Kinsan the moment Nehachibana
spoke, and it was a hard struggle for him to refrain from speaking to
her. His whole being bade him respond to an overpowering impulse, but
sober thought checked him, and he grasped at an opportunity to turn his
back by leading Nehachibana away.

This movement, however, did not serve to shield him, for before he had
entirely turned about Kinsan saw his face and knew him, and sprang to
her feet, while the child fell to the floor. Though her very being
flamed she did not follow, but stood speechless and helpless; there was
no force to move her. She waited, and presently he returned.

Shibusawa led his sister back to her apartment and left her under
promise that she would try to regain her composure and remain there
until he came for her. He told her that he desired to meet the child's
mother privately, but would return to her in a short time.

Nehachibana said nothing to relieve her brother's mind. She knew in her
own heart that Kinsan was not the mother of the child, yet she did not
speak. He, of course, took it for granted that the child was hers. He
got only a glance, but saw in its eyes a familiar image; also in that he
was misinformed. Had it been a woman who saw, she would not have made so
grave a mistake; reason is sometimes the victim of deception; intuition,
never.

As he returned, he judged. Every step deadened his feelings and each
thought blinded his reason. He conjured her false, and made himself the
victim. He re-entered the room, sternly and deliberately; she stood
there, hopeful and expectant. As he stepped inside she came forward, but
before reaching him stopped and bowed in silence; she had divined his
heart and read correctly the message. The child cried playfully, and she
blushed deeply and confusedly. She realised fully the possible
consequences of its being there, and would have hastened to explain had
he given her the opportunity; on the contrary he approached and said
calmly, but coldly:

"Kinsan, I would like a word with you, if you will so permit me."

She raised her hands and looked at him with pleading, earnest eyes, but
he made no offer to meet her. His arms hung limp, and his look fell to
the floor. She waited for him to recover, to deign some word or act of
encouragement. Perhaps he battled for power; perhaps he accused her. He
made no sign, and she recovered herself and calmly asked him:

"Will you please be seated?

They sat down upon the clean white floor; the child lay coaxing in front
of them. Neither offered a remark, but both sat in serious
contemplation. It was he who first attempted to break the silence, and
as he ventured to speak the partition in front slid back with a jerk,
and Tetsutaisho walked forward and bowed.

"I trust I am not intruding," said he, as he waited for Shibusawa to
arise.

"I beg your pardon, sir," said the younger of the two, rising and
drawing his kimono about him. "It is I who seem to be unwelcome.
Therefore please grant me the privilege of retiring."

"As you like," said the other, with an air of disinterestedness and a
low bow. "Tetsutaisho welcomes his friends, always."

"And Shibusawa recognises his enemies, now and then," retorted he with a
courteous bow, as he gracefully withdrew from their presence.

Shibusawa hurried back to Nehachibana's room where he found her sitting
and staring into space. Her features were expressionless, and her toilet
showed a carelessness which until now had escaped his notice. He said a
few kindly words to her, and retiring, hastened toward his own home. She
paid little heed to what he said, and when he warmly gave her a parting
farewell she blankly answered:

"Sayonara."[17]

The disconsolate young man went home with a sadder heart and firmer
determination than ever. He was fully convinced that Kinsan had been
untrue, yet in charity he charged her failure to the law's barrier. At
first he had been stunned, and his love momentarily wavered; but as he
gained freedom and more carefully reflected, his heart withstood the
test and his mind regained its composure; and when he arose the next
morning he set himself to his task with a will that knows no better
victory than constancy.



                              CHAPTER XXVI

                          DAIMYO'S PROCESSION


The final preparations for the gorgeous procession progressed without
interruption all of the next day, notwithstanding a light rain fell
almost incessantly, and Shibusawa, at least, regretted though encouraged
a speedy going. He must on the very eve of Kinsan's discovery part with
what seemed to be the last hope of ever realising his life's ambition.
And she the property of his bitterest enemy! Sometimes it seemed more
than he could bear; but a recurring sense of the inevitable always
stayed the doing of some rash thing, and long before the evening had
passed friends were calling to bid the family good-bye.

As night came on, however, the rain ceased, and the weather began to
clear under a stiff breeze blowing from the eastward. It was a chill
October night, the leaves were falling, and the white clouds sped low in
the sky. The sun had fringed the western horizon with a snowy-fleeced
red, and Shibusawa stepped to the outer edge of his veranda to take a
parting glimpse of the golden scene spread over the hills above. He
could not see the site of the hidden cave, but his eyes moistened; he
turned away and looked toward the lake below.

There he saw emerging from a cluster of bushes Okyo, tugging along a coy
maiden, whose dress and appearance signified that she did not belong to
the castle; yet he observed her neat and modest appearance; also that
Okyo endeavoured with difficulty to induce her to approach. Shibusawa
drew back and waited their coming with amusement, if not interest.

Presently they came near, and after much consultation and persuasion on
Okyo's part they entered the house and groped their way hand in hand--he
pulling and she shying--into Shibusawa's presence. Okyo saluted his
master, she courtesied; between them they stammered an explanation, and
the host begged forgiveness for the unseemly confusion of identities.

"And this is Shiyoganai, the pretty young girl whom we rescued while
guests at the Look-See tea house. Let us see, that is several years ago,
and I am afraid our claim is now more than forfeited. However, I suppose
the double is fancied and the bargain might be renewed," said the young
prince, in a manner intended to place them at ease, and save the direct
embarrassment of a possible recognition.

The unexpected rather upset Okyo, and a feeling somewhat akin to fright
suddenly came over him. He said nothing; his voice failed him, and
hanging his head he partly turned and whispered:

"You tell it, Shiyoganai; I can't."

She blushed deeply, and told the story of how Okyo had again met her
after his venture upon the sea and with his meagre assistance saved her
from being sold a second time, possibly into something worse than
slavery. She added with much hesitation that they had dearly loved each
other for a long time, and asked him to be so kind as to let Okyo come
back sometime to see her.

"Tell him that I want to marry you," interposed her would-be suitor,
boldly.

"And are you both quite sure you wish to take so serious a step?"

"Oh, yes, we are," said they in chorus, scarcely the words left his
lips.

"Then you shall marry and welcome, for I shall want you to remain here
with the keeper until I return."

Shibusawa tendered Okyo the funds necessary to make settlement with her
parents and bade them expedite the marriage, as he must move early on
the morrow and should certainly expect them to be punctually on hand.
Nor did they waste time, but hurriedly saluted and were not seen again
until late the next morning, when Shiyoganai came trudging in, was
forgiven and seemed happy.

The daimyo's procession had started to move betimes, and was well on the
way before the streets had quieted down for the midday. The parade had
been so well noised about that the roads were everywhere lined with the
interested and the curious. Flags and bunting were displayed and many
shops had been closed in honour of the event. By common consent the
occasion had been turned into a general holiday in honour of the man
whose sympathy had endeared him to both prince and pauper alike; and as
the pageant moved along there was presented to view a strikingly
imposing scene.

Over forty thousand men were in line, and among them many dignitaries,
who had been invited and who chanced to join as a mark of respect and an
act of loyalty. The swordsmen, under the command of Beppu, a trusted
officer of the daimyo's forces, marched in the lead; after these came
the spearsmen; then the fieldsmen; and then the courtiers, retainers,
members of the household, servants, criers, and hangers-on. Groups of
knightly heralds, in costumes of white and gold, carried high, massive
plumes of green and brown; there were couriers with flaming banners,
gorgeous floats, flags, streamers, and bunting; huge grotesque figures
and other monstrosities wabbled along on human backs, while gilded poles
and clever symbols lined the imposing column. Gaudy uniforms and costly
dress told of the wealth and pomp that followed in the splendid train,
and the great chairs of state bespoke Maido's power and the splendour of
his suite. On the door at either side of these rich palanquins shone the
family crest, worked into the beautiful lacquer with finely threaded
gold and silver, in the design of five circles around ten short rays
representing sword punctures. The daimyo's chair came first in line,
then Shibusawa's. After all the rest there followed long trains laden
with baggage and paraphernalia belonging to the household and retainers
of the family.

The procession moved in double file along the old Tokaido, the deep-worn
and hard-packed highway with its tall cedars and interlocking branches
on either side. Here they travelled in solemn grandeur as their
ancestors of a thousand years had done, and Maido marvelled at the
beauty of the ceremony and thought with pride of the splendour of his
retinue. His army was counted legion and his income over a million
koku,[18] while the doors of nobility were open to him and royalty
pleased with his friendship. He had in effect just closed a brilliant
career, and his own son about to succeed him he believed capable of
winning new laurels--why should he not swell with satisfaction as he
rode along beneath the shade of these giants of the forest?

Shibusawa, on the other hand, had begun to take a deeper hold on life.
He had seen the world, and felt keenly the narrow pride which the lords
and rulers of his land boasted.

He knew their tiny empire to be a beauteous land, and he also knew that
it had been discovered; that there were other people from whom the good
things of the earth could not be kept. He also realised that they
themselves had much to profit by the larger intercourse certainly to
come, and that they, too, with all their excellence were far from being
perfect in the scale of social organisation. He had seen sufficient of
life and imbibed enough of truth to understand that so long as
inequality exists between men just so long will the state remain
flexible; and he realised that such a government must necessarily adapt
itself to natural conditions. He had looked out into the world and there
beheld the glory of man, not men; and he now believed in man's
regeneration as born of progression.

They tramped on day after day in their only fashion, and when they
finally did arrive at their own gate Shibusawa sprang from his chair and
amid the shouts of the men ran on at double the speed. For this he was
held in high esteem and accounted one of their kind, though some of the
dignitaries may have been a little surprised at the young prince's
democracy. While Maido, out of deference to his station, said nothing,
at least he really rejoiced, for he loved a good sprinter and had
actually winked at more than one wrestling match in his day.

"I would get out and go you a bout myself, were it not for shocking the
household keeper's sensibilities," said he to his son, quietly, as the
latter was about to leave his chair for the coveted run through the
woods and over the hills.

Shibusawa's fleetness brought him, before many hours had passed, to the
selfsame gate behind which most of his boyhood days had been spent. He
drew a deep breath as he entered, and while walking along the old
winding road to the main front he said to himself:

"What is sweeter and better than the environment of early home?"

He immediately, upon entering, set himself to work directing a few added
touches that would please and encourage his father's home-coming. Such
trifling attentions he accounted a great pleasure, and as he grew older
in appreciation of a parent's tenderness he lost no opportunity to show
his affectionate esteem. Nor did he misplace even one, for Maido in his
way repaid the trouble many fold.

When they had arrived at Kanazawa, the season had so far advanced that
they at once settled down for the winter. Though disappointed in not
being able to visit other parts of the prefecture, they took much
satisfaction in the quiet of their country house, and Magokoro (the real
or red heart, or maple leaves) smiled sweetly and soon the snow fell
beautifully. They did not lack for plenty to do and see, and when once
settled there was much company, for Maido had been gone for a long time
and his neighbours were not only glad at having seen him return, but
some of the mikado's court, not far distant, were interested in knowing
the reason.

Nor was Takara disinterested, though she did not call. And a certain
prince who had once upon a time been deeply in love with her and who was
still quite attentive, manifested more than an interest; he was anxious,
and upon Shibusawa's return he at first took it upon himself to visit
Kanazawa rather often. Aside from these personal attractions, the south
brewed a storm that was destined to spread until it had claimed the
attention of some persons even much farther north than Kanazawa. Thus
plenty both of interest and variety engaged Maido, nor would Shibusawa
flinch from his part.



                             CHAPTER XXVII

                          SHIBUSAWA RECLAIMED


It was now some considerable time since Takara had been spirited by the
ronin from Tokyo to Kyoto, where she had gone into seclusion at her
mother's house and so remained. The gaiety at court had little
attraction for her, and she undertook to devote herself to a new life
which should atone for all past failures. She had had her trial with
men, and placing them all in the same category undertook to discard them
as so much rubbish.

One day while discussing the matter with Daikomitsu she said to him:

"They are disappointing and, I believe, a burden to the real woman. No,
Daikomitsu, you could not have me, were I free and you made of gold. I
prefer another kind of happiness."

"You do not mean what you say, Takara. You are chafing a bit under the
weight of your misfortunes. You have my sympathy and my love too, if you
will."

"I have a husband."

"And of what sort? I vow not of your own choice."

"A woman has no choice."

"Nor should she; nor would she, had I the say."

"Thanks. I understand there are some would-be friends who are interested
in all that goes with feudalism except the inheritance. You might have
that, were you as clever as they."

"I belong to the literati."

"Oh, you do? It is strange; I had heard nothing of that since you were
here last. I trust it will not get noised around too much--Ikamon might
hear it."

"Well?"

"He is worth the while."

"Tetsutaisho's the better man. I like him."

"Then he has told you?"

"You seem agitated. I hope you do not count him one of the new school.
Though he is close to Ikamon, I will admit."

"No; I had another thing in mind. Go on with your talk. The mood is a
modest one."

"I'll trust you, though it were better a man kept his own counsel."

"Daikomitsu? Ha, ha; how egotistical!"

"And you really love me?"

"No."

"Then you hate me."

"No."

"What chance is there between hate and love?"

"It is there that I would trust a woman."

Daikomitsu was pleased to have an opportunity to unfold his plans to
somebody, and no one seemed to have more patience than Takara. Even her
willingness seemed an encouragement to him. It did not count that she
used him as a means of escape from others, for he had grown up in the
same easy atmosphere and loved her from early boyhood. He always would
love her. It mattered not that she had been married to another or that
she might marry still others, he should love her just the same. Time
might have wrought its changes, but not the even tenor of Daikomitsu's
way.

Portly and of average height, his face smooth-shaved and head somewhat
bald, a goodly measure of royal blood coursed in his veins, and he was
accounted a prince of high rank. Being a devotee of that classic school
which grew up around Nara, and an ardent supporter of letters, he had
gained a high standing as a scholar, though his learning was hardly
profound nor his manner entirely polished. He had never been accredited
with anything like ability or ambition, and therefore was not courted
much at home nor taken too seriously elsewhere. However, in this they
were all destined to a severe awakening; for until now Daikomitsu had
only once been really stirred, and that was by the sudden marriage of
Takara. He had kept his counsel well, but from that time forth he had an
ambition. Just what it might be he did not himself quite know; still he
had determined upon something, and with one so high in the councils of
state it required only time and opportunity. The occasion must come, and
he was perfectly willing to drift and wait.

Not caring much for the effeminate pastimes of the plethoric
supernumeraries at Kyoto, nor being required much at council, he was at
liberty to go and come as best pleased him; therefore shortly after
Takara's removal to Tokyo he, too, sought the shogun's capital. He
probably did this as a natural consequence more than as a fixed plan to
be near Takara; at all events he did not disturb her, and his visits
were always within the bounds of strict decorum. She, on the other hand,
had paid but little attention to his coming and going, treating him as
she did all others who were friendly at the lord daimyo's castle.

Later, after going to live at Tetsutaisho's house, Takara saw but little
of Daikomitsu, meeting him only occasionally at Maido's, where they were
both wont to go and visit at odd times. While Daikomitsu knew of
Takara's abandonment of her own home for that of her brother-in-law he
did not divine the true extent of her relations, though much of the
gossip reaching Kyoto--finally resulting in her strange return--did so
through the medium of none other than himself. And when she had gone he
too returned, though no one ever accused him of having any direct
connection with her removal.

Daikomitsu had through all these years grown to be popular at the
capital and considered a good friend at court--even accredited by some
as being in sympathy with the shogun's cause. Especially the opposition
to Ikamon courted his favour and even many of the latter's staunchest
supporters admired him. In fact his influence had already come to be
felt, and he had not a little to do with prolonging peace and
maintaining order between the two rival factions, the north and the
south. In consequence he interested himself to know whether the geisha
party had been given to cover some breach between Maido and Ikamon, and
whether the lord daimyo's removal to the country had a political meaning
deeper than appeared.

Tokyo he did not believe to be the place to gain such information, and
hastening back to Kyoto he began making himself a friendly caller at the
Kanazawa castle, though he did not associate himself much with the quiet
meetings that were beginning to be held there to discuss public affairs.
He may have been too sagacious for that, even though thought to be slow
and of small consequence.

Nor was he in harmony with the sentiment so rapidly centring around
Maido. He had lost none of his sympathies for the mikado, still he did
not believe that any improvement could be brought about by the
admittance of foreigners into the land; and on that point thoroughly
accorded with the mikado himself, as well as with Saigo and Kido and all
the leaders of the dominant faction in the south. Realising the dangers
of personal alliance, Daikomitsu held himself as much as possible aloof
from all doings, and contented himself with investigating the real
status of affairs.

His correct understanding of the political situation, while not
generally known, had been due in no small measure to his relations with
Takara. The return of Shibusawa to Kanazawa had aroused her interest,
and stimulated her to take a more active part in the affairs of life. In
fact she had even gone so far as to delve into politics, and whatever
Takara did she did with an energy. Thus she not only continued her
indifferent relations with Daikomitsu, but actually sought to open, upon
the same terms, some sort of intercourse with the house of Maido,
including her own husband, Shibusawa.

Until now she had taken no particular notice of his return from abroad.
She had always held considerable regard for her husband, though in her
own heart she felt there never could be anything of family interest
between them. It might have been intrigue, but it could not have been
love that now prompted her to seek him.

While Daikomitsu did not know so much--Takara had not taken the pains to
tell him anything--he was not jealous of Shibusawa. He had never been
jealous of anybody, and only dreaded their coming together again as
being the possible means of her total loss to him; he planned
accordingly.

"I shall be going to Tokyo in a few days, Takara, and I trust upon my
return your heart will not have gone in Shibusawa's direction."

"Foolish boy! You might sooner expect it yourself. However, I am going
to invite them over, and I shall want you to carry the message."

"And serve you at the door?"

"Oh, no; I shall for that excuse you; it is the daimyos' call, not the
princes'."

"And when do you expect such a gathering?"

"Not later than Tenno-Sai. It is a good time."

"I would return even before that, should you wish it."

"You are always kind, Daikomitsu."



                             CHAPTER XXVIII

                          THE DAIMYO'S ARREST


Daikomitsu proceeded directly to Tokyo, and upon his arrival found the
shogun's party considerably stirred up over what threatened to become a
serious breach. It had been strongly hinted by some of Ikamon's enemies
that the lord daimyo of Kanazawa had withdrawn in disgust, and for no
other reason than a hearty dislike of his son-in-law's encouragement of
everything foreign. There was also gaining ground a feeling that the
crafty minister had used too much to his own advantage the powers of the
shogun. Notwithstanding this latter charge, the real cause for
dissension centred in the growing distrust of the foreigners. Here as in
Kyoto it had already become the main issue, and strong overtures were
being made to some of the leaders in the mikado's ranks for a coalition
of all the anti-foreign forces.

Upon Daikomitsu's return to the scene at Tokyo he was showered with
every consideration. In fact some of the more ardent openly stated that
he had come as the secret envoy of the mikado, for the express purpose
of encouraging a friendly understanding between the two heads of
government on that subject.

Ikamon was not at all pleased with these friendly demonstrations,
because things had so shaped themselves that he could not recede from
the position taken had he so desired or thought best. He had used his
influence with the shogunate to stamp approval only upon such foreign
measures as he had been forced to concede, rather than involve the
nation in open hostilities with the powers; which he knew full well
would have been practical suicide. As a result of these several
contentions there had sprung up, among a few of the more radical of the
prime minister's foes, a demand for the regency of Hitotsubashi, and
whisperings of Daikomitsu as a possible successor to Ikamon himself. It
had already come to Ikamon's ears that even Tetsutaisho had listened to
the rumors with indifference, whereupon the prime minister sought an
interview with Daikomitsu and undertook to wrest from him a definite
understanding. The easy-going scholar, of course, denied any such
thought as disloyalty to a friend, and carelessly went so far as to
suggest stringent measures.

"This unrest must be checked in some way," said he to Ikamon, a day or
so before he had fully made up his mind to return to Kyoto. "Why, it is
rumoured that even Maido is in some way dissatisfied. Yet I should
sooner think it his son, Shibusawa, were he in a position to speak."

"I will admit a drag-net might surprise the most sanguine these
days--still, Maido is beyond question. When he has proven false, then it
is high time for such as you and I to indulge a quicker spirit. In the
meantime let us not abstain too much from the liquor--this the golden
wine that kissed the wood these forty years or more--and here is to
'longer friendship'," said Ikamon, as he raised the bowl to his own
lips, then passed it to his guest.

"And a 'better understanding'," answered Daikomitsu, as he emptied the
contents and filled again the cup for his host.

After this last interview Daikomitsu concluded he had best get away from
the scene of his rising popularity, so he immediately returned to Kyoto,
where he found Takara anxiously engaged about the daimyos' meeting,
which had already been planned. She had talked with Kido and others, and
according to her version none had seemed to object and all promised to
take part in the proceedings. Just what the plans really were, no one
claimed to know or greatly care; nor did she herself apparently have a
very clear understanding. It was her maiden effort in politics, and she
knew only that something must be done. Perhaps she had been advised by
Kido, who was pre-eminently qualified and probably not reluctant.
Possibly she took a woman's course, and put in motion all her forces at
the first impulse. However that may have been, the call was duly made
and all responded. Daikomitsu had in person carried the invitation to
Maido, and to make certain his response remained there until proper to
go.

After the daimyos had assembled, including all the southern sympathisers
and many from the north, it soon became apparent that an effort would be
made to pledge a united support to a measure intended to expel the
foreigners.

Maido had gone there with no intention of joining any such movement, in
fact had never surmised its proposal; nor did he afterwards discover
that he had really been tricked. Saigo was extremely anxious to get the
tacit if not active support of Kanazawa, and in consequence had at an
early day cautioned Kido to lose no chance to cultivate a friendly
relation with the lord daimyo. Kido, too, appreciated the benefits
necessarily to result from such a policy, could they but secure his
friendship, though they failed of an alliance. Being not only a very
wise statesman, but an adroit politician, Kido recognised Takara's
relation to Maido's family and counted the power of woman in matters of
state, had she the aptitude and could she be induced to venture.
Therefore he used the first opportunity to gratify the mikado's daughter
in her ambition and thus further their cause; though the consequences
proved to be far more startling than even he had dared to think.

The reception accorded the lord daimyo upon his arrival at Kyoto pleased
him very much, and he felt glad indeed for an opportunity to visit his
daughter-in-law. While living at his house in Tokyo she had endeared
herself to him, and though he realised Shibusawa's indifference he may
have had some hope that this visit might result in at least a partial
reconciliation. He knew that originally the marriage had been a sad
mistake, but somehow began to feel that possibly in the end it might
resolve itself into a useful if not a happy union. He had finally
responded to the invitation with such a thought uppermost in his mind,
and without paying any attention to the daimyos' meeting sought while
there to devote himself to Takara.

In fact, he had been present only at the passage of one measure; and
then was so engaged by Daikomitsu, who accompanied him and had induced
him to attend, that he gained little understanding of what actually took
place. Nor did he take a copy of the document, when the final draft was
submitted to him, but allowed his supposed friend the privilege, eagerly
taken, of placing it hastily in his girdle; afterwards striding off
pleasantly, together, toward Takara's house.

"It is a capital idea," said the younger man, as they approached the
marble doorstep. "I want to have you entertain a more friendly feeling
toward our people, if not our cause."

"I am at peace with all the world," answered Maido, heartily.

"Then we are already on friendly terms."

"I trust so."

"And there is a reason."

"Maido never betrayed a friend."

"Nor formed a friendship in vain."

They had seated themselves in the guests' hall, at Takara's invitation,
and were enjoying their pipes and tobacco. Neither had spoken a word to
break the silence for some time, when suddenly Maido said:

"The document, Daikomitsu. Let us see what these lords and barons have
been up to."

"Oh, some letter of the mikado's, I believe," said Daikomitsu,
unconcernedly, though he trembled perceptibly as he drew it from his
girdle and tossed it toward his companion.

"Some friendly encouragement, I presume."

"Yes, in relation to the foreigners, I believe."

"Of course," said the elder, as he drew a long whiff and sat blowing the
smoke through his nostrils.

The lord daimyo paid no heed to the--as he supposed innocent--document
which lay at his side, but continued the conversation as if he preferred
more to hear his friend's explanation.

Presently Takara came in and seated herself at her father-in-law's side.
Thereat the subject of conversation changed and Maido picked up the
dainty roll of paper and tossing it at Takara told her to take care of
it until he should want it. She caught it and after a while, when the
men were occupied, carelessly unrolled it, and read from beginning to
end. As she did this Daikomitsu watched her closely; he twitched
nervously and coloured noticeably, though taking care not to attract
Maido's attention.

Takara read on without observing either of her audience, and when
finished smiled with a sense of satisfaction. Then re-rolling the paper
and replacing the dainty silk which held it, she tucked it away in the
sleeve of her kimono.

The measure in question was nothing more than the endorsement of a
letter which purported to have been written by the mikado, addressed to
the daimyos there assembled, individually and collectively. The
endorsement was in the nature of a resolution passed in open assembly,
only by the assent of the daimyos; a copy of the letter and resolution,
bearing all their names, having been handed to each, his silence being
deemed a sufficient approval. The letter recommended that they consult
with certain leaders of the bakufu, at Tokyo and elsewhere, named
therein at the instance of Daikomitsu, and that they organise a movement
to drive out the foreigners and thereby satisfy the demands of the
people and restore peace in the land. As a precaution against being
found out by the powers at Tokyo, no extra copies were issued, and none
not liable, excepting only Daikomitsu, had been allowed to be present.

Takara and her company continued to sit until presently the conversation
drifted to things of interest about her home life; whereupon she
proposed they stroll through the gardens and enjoy the early cherry
blossoms. To this the men agreed, and she courtesied and retired to her
own apartments to make ready for the walk.

Entering her own chamber Takara took the document from her sleeve and
hastily placing it in a lacquered chest carelessly dropped the lid with
a loud report. Turning quickly around, she observed that she had not
closed after her the partitions and that Daikomitsu could have seen her,
though he had turned his face and was not then looking. Closing her room
she proceeded with her toilet, soon after joining again the party, all
of whom strolled out into the garden.

They had not been there long, however, before Daikomitsu excused himself
and went away, failing to come back again; and when Takara returned to
her room she did not remember to look for the paper which she had
secreted in her toilet case. In fact, it had entirely escaped her, and
she also failed to think of it when Maido later on prepared to take his
departure; nor did she afterwards call it to mind, until too late.

Daikomitsu had watched her, and from the closing of the lid knew just
where to look for the copy of the letter and resolution; and upon
excusing himself in the garden, stole to her room, and taking the
instrument gave it to a waiting messenger, who bore it directly to
Ikamon. It proved to be Daikomitsu's golden opportunity, and he grasped
it eagerly and effectively. He had in one act proved his loyalty to
Ikamon and laid open the way to success, for which he had become eager
and in his own easy way sagacious.

Such a sweeping disclosure as this purported to be, though Ikamon had
had a thorough understanding with Daikomitsu before the latter's
departure for Kyoto, could hardly have been so soon expected. The prime
minister's self-constituted spy had promised something interesting; but
that he should forthwith be able to return an official document
implicating so large a number of powerful daimyos--including his own
father-in-law and nearly thirty of the bakufu of his own city--in a plot
that threatened his own safety and endangered the shogunate, was beyond
his comprehension. At first he was dumfoundered, but having fought his
way thus far he did not propose to be outwitted. So he pondered the
situation over night and the next morning called Jigokumon, keeper of
the torments, and questioned him about the capacity of the dungeons.
Then he said to him:

"Make ready the cellar of torture, and see to it that the slow fires are
well kindled and the red light plentiful, and that the sulphur pots are
all filled afresh. Be careful lest there be one among your lackeys who
betrays you, for Jigokumon shall suffer the consequences."

Then he began preparing a list of the condemned; taking particular pains
to include all of the bakufu whose names appeared in the letter supplied
through Daikomitsu, and as many of the daimyos as he thought it
practicable to arrest without warlike resistance. In all there were
thirty daimyos and twenty-seven bakufu. For these he issued a warrant in
the name of the shogun, commanding the officer of the guard forthwith to
bring their bodies before the law, that they might be judged as to their
disloyalty, the crime charged. Having duly issued and delivered the
writ, his reflections grew, until finally the enormity of the situation
had so fixed itself upon his susceptive nature that no punishment seemed
severe enough to fit the case.

At first he inclined toward excusing Maido, but upon reflection changed
his mind and left his name upon the list; and as time went on and he
dwelt upon the matter he conjured up the most hearty distrust of his
father-in-law, and finally in his own mind ranked him the most dangerous
enemy of them all. He said to himself:

"I can now understand why the daimyo wished to withdraw from the
capital. How I was led into letting him go! A swifter vengeance could
not have been less deserved."

The quickness of Ikamon's discovery of the plot and the suddenness with
which he acted so startled them and overcame opposition that not one
escaped; but all were promptly arrested and thrown into Ikamon's
dungeon, where they remained stunned and overwhelmed, awaiting their
doom. Probably the most heart-broken and puzzled of the many was Maido,
for he had no inkling of such a thing and certainly knew of no reason
why he should be so treated; though high-handed proceedings were not at
all uncommon even in that late day.

At first he inclined toward treating the whole matter as a joke, and
finally upon his departure told Shibusawa that he should not remain a
martyr, but would return a Maido.

"I trust so," said the doubtful son, as they saluted a last farewell and
the father started off, all fettered and bound.

Maido did not deign to think that anything more than some trivial
misunderstanding had arisen, and that upon his arrival at Tokyo
everything would be satisfactorily explained and he would be accounted
the abused rather than condemned as accused. Shibusawa had less
confidence in Ikamon and was more doubtful, still he did not believe
anything serious would come of it, otherwise he would have resisted the
arrest. In talking the matter over with his son, before being carried
away, Maido recalled the fact of having left with Takara the only bit of
evidence he had received of his participation in the daimyos' meeting.
He remembered having given her the document after talking it over with
Daikomitsu, and said:

"I will ask for it, and Takara will send it forthwith to Tokyo. It sets
forth all that to which I am a party, and will be a complete
vindication. Daikomitsu knows its contents, and it could not be in safer
hands than Takara's."

"I do not too much like Daikomitsu," said Shibusawa anxiously. "He is
profuse, and has a purpose."

"Even so, Takara can be trusted. Do you know, I believe my presence was
desired more by her than the mikado? And really she is a grand woman. I
trust you will know more of her, and it is my hope that you may like her
better. She desires it, I fancy."

After Maido's departure, Shibusawa recalled the circumstance and felt
much annoyed at the part Daikomitsu had played in connection with his
father's presence at Kyoto. He had come to know his wife's former lover
very well from his repeated visits to Kanazawa in the winter, and was
not much impressed with his sincerity. He had also gathered the
impression that the apparent dullard had far greater ambitions than
generally accredited, and felt suspicious of the close relation that
seemed still to exist between Daikomitsu and Takara.

In his limited acquaintance with his wife Shibusawa had formed the
impression that she was rather a clever woman, and now that she too
appeared recently to have taken much interest in Maido, and gained
possession of his only evidence of vindication, he could not resist
connecting the two and believing them implicated in some plot to
embarrass his aged father, if not to be rid of him entirely. He did not
like the look of the situation, and the more he studied the darker it
grew.



                              CHAPTER XXIX

                            MAIDO'S PENALTY


As the time passed and no word came from his father Shibusawa began to
realise the full force of his presentiments. He had not the power to go
to his parent's relief, and his only hope lay in his ability to guard
against still further and greater disaster to the family. He fully
realised his responsibility, and undertook to acquit himself with due
respect to the inevitable and a proper regard for truth.

The aged daimyo had stood patiently the journey and borne up well under
the charge until reaching the Tokyo dungeon, into which he was thrust
without even a chance to meet his accusers, much less any opportunity to
hear or explain.

The foul place which held him prisoner lay in a damp, dark hole in the
cellar, underneath the very building in which his son-in-law swayed the
sceptre of his vast power; and though many of these gruesome cells, each
holding its captive, they were so constructed, with huge walls and
peephole grates, that no person could be seen or a voice heard from one
to the other. Not a rat or uncanny thing could get in there, nor was
there room to lie down on the cold, hard tramped floor. As Maido entered
his last hope vanished; he knew too well his doom. He could not eat the
miserable food each day silently pushed in at the bare opening high up
in the narrow door, nor could he sleep, but sank down and prayed. He
asked his god only that his son escape.

With Maido thus caged below, Ikamon busied himself above; he believed in
doing the thing once he had made up his mind. The consequences could and
would better adjust themselves afterwards. He had made his way by bold
and unflinching strokes, and he reasoned that a change of policy now
would certainly bring, if it did not merit, disaster; therefore he
hastened the trial, and concluded the testimony after the first ordeal.

The morning came on gloomy, and a murky atmosphere hung over the city
like a pall. Ikamon rose early and hurried to his great seat in the hall
of state; then hastily donned the gown of justice and took up the cudgel
of vengeance. There was no one to dispute his right, no one to stay the
hand which had now turned to fiend, and he fiercely called out:

"Jigokumon!"

"Sayo, most honourable high minister," answered the doughty keeper as he
came trudging forward, bowing and attesting.

"Have the prisoners confessed?" asked the mighty, speaking purposely in
the plural.

"No; your most honourable perfectness, they have not had--they have
not."

"Then proceed with the ordeal; the court cannot be so trifled with."

The tormentor withdrew. He knew where to begin his awful work, for
Ikamon had long before told him that, and cautioned him about the
victims. He groped his way below and fumbled at the keyhole. The great
iron lock creaked as he threw back the rusty bolt. He hauled and shoved
at the grimy door, and the filthy den belched its nasty air. Two vile
lubbers fell upon the faint and helpless daimyo, roughly dragging him
out. He made no resistance, nor did he cry aloud. They hurried him
through the long, dark, narrow passage to a muffled exit. The door
closed behind them, and Jigokumon thrust a lighted torch in Maido's
face, and snarled:

"What now, you hinin?"[19]

Maido did not speak; he was beyond that. The light blinded him and
terror overcame him. He glanced pitifully at Ikamon's ruffians, then
sank back unable to comprehend. His torturer sneered as he snuffed the
light and hissed:

"To the torments!"

Throwing open the outer, or last door, the two flunkeys thrust the lord
daimyo forward upon the hot cinders covering the earthen floor.
Jigokumon remained outside; it was too awful in there, even for him.
They hustled Maido to the centre of the room and lashed his hands at his
back with one end of a cord which hung loosely from a beam overhead.
After securely tying his feet together the two heavy men slowly pulled
at the loose end of the cord from above; whereat the victim's arms
fairly twisted in the sockets and, with downcast face, his limbs hung
limp. Maido groaned, then nerved himself to the ordeal.

Having raised him a trifle from the ground, the monsters slid beneath
his bare feet a pot of burning coals from which the lid was stripped.
The sulphur pots were lit, and the red light flashed--the fiends
disappeared, and the fumes rose, enveloping the suffering patriot. He
uttered no sound, but looked upon the hellish scene with stoic
indifference. Perhaps he thought of man's sphere as compared with God's.
Possibly he contrasted the good with the evil of life, as lived on
earth; and he may have glimpsed at a truer way, the one that heaven
foretells.

He had hung there only a few minutes--it seemed to him an age--before
his feet shrivelled and blackened, while the fire crackled and sizzled
around them. As his contorted body dangled in the air, his face
upturned, he momentarily saw, peering through a glass-covered peephole,
his trusted son-in-law, Ikamon; then a smile crossed his face and he
lost all consciousness.

While Maido was being pushed into the cellar of torture, Ikamon had
seated himself in the judge's cubby-hole, which adjoined the chamber of
testimony, permitting a close watch of the victim and a taking of the
confession, if such were made, without suffering the annoyance of the
fiery fumes within. He looked only once, and fate revealed the sickly
smile, whereat he quickly drew the curtain, and turning, shouted:

"Jigokumon; Jigokumon; relieve the victim; the confession is made!"

Suddenly the fires were extinguished, and Maido, more dead than alive,
was restored to the damp cell from which he had been taken. He did not
recover consciousness for a long time, but when he had done so he
suffered such intense pain that he begged the dumb walls for death.

He had, however, long to wait, for he had been left there to suffer all
but that. Ikamon, though, gauged well the time, and before too late
pronounced the sentence: Maido, together with all the rest, was led
forth into the wilderness of Musashijamoku, where they were scattered
about and permitted, one after another, the right of harakiri. There
overhung the marsh land a mist, and the murky wet clung to the smooth,
round bamboos, echoing a grave-like sound as each pronounced the parting
word. All excepting Maido had gone, and it now came his turn. He sat
there in the cold wet with his snarled and decaying limbs crossed under
him. His face was upturned and in his right hand he held the sharpened
steel. He had thanked his accusers for respecting his right to die as
became his rank, and now thought only of his own, his son. Out of the
gloom of the swamp there arose the sound of the executioner's voice; it
said only:

"Maido."

The blow was struck, and his head dropped forward. Then there came from
the still forest a silent, anxious step, and trembling voice, saying:

"It is too late! He is gone!"

She bent over him and whispered:

"It is I."

He raised his face to hers and answered:

"Takara!"

Then she cried:

"It was not I! Oh, honourable father, it was not I that did it!"

Maido said:

"I understand. It was he who stole it. You are my deliverer. You have
brought me news."

"And he knows not your fate, but is not deceived. He lives and I am
still his wife. Shibusawa will vindicate his father's name. I swear it!"

Takara straightened up and the fire flashed from her eyes, as her words
pierced the dull air around her.

"It is well."

These were the words with which Maido bade the world a last farewell,
with which he forgave his traducers, and with which he welcomed death.
He knew Takara's power and believed in her sincerity. He was ready to
die.

Maido fell face downward, and Takara bathed her handkerchief in the
blood that flowed from the wound at his waist; then wrapping up the
stained symbol, hid it in the folds of her obi;[20] she had taken the
oath that is--until avenged.

Takara stood there as if held by some wild, untrained spirit; she stared
this way and that, then a low cry escaped her lips. The haunted woods
around mocked her, and trembling she listened. Not until now had she
realised the awful situation or divined the peril of her strange
adventure. She turned to go, but a rough officer seized and quickly led
her away.

Upon learning of the wholesale arrests, as they were being made, Takara
had missed from its place of keeping the document which Maido had
intrusted to her care. She recalled Daikomitsu's nervousness at the time
of her reading it, his chance of seeing her hide it away, and his sudden
departure from the garden, and thought of his strange actions
afterwards; then she concluded--not reasoned--that these peculiar
circumstances bore some connection with the unexpected seizure of so
many of the daimyos who were present at the meeting. No one knew
Daikomitsu better than Takara, and while she believed him a coward of
little consequence she considered him capable of the meanest
villainy--in the prospect of gain without detection. She did not stop to
inquire about a motive, though she might have discovered one lurking
between his repeated trips to Tokyo and the few unguarded disclosures
made to her in the course of their long acquaintance.

Divining the clue to Ikamon's source of information the mikado's
daughter had set out post-haste to frustrate his designs. She first
called upon Kido, but he proved to be powerless, in fact was only too
glad to have escaped. Then she went to Kanazawa, and there was horrified
to learn that her beloved father-in-law too had been snatched away. She
did not stop to right herself with Shibusawa, who now charged her with
being the accomplice of Daikomitsu--the one person more than any other
interested in the downfall of the house of Maido--and when he finally
dismissed her, saying:

"There is now nothing to merit even our friendship," she stooped with
sorrow and answered:

"It is true. I am justly served."

Though their meeting had been a pitiful one, Takara did not break down
under the weight of his accusation nor did she weaken in her purpose.
She had discovered still greater reason for her activities, and
incidentally learned that Shibusawa was fully prepared to withstand any
further assault upon his stronghold. She, therefore, left him and
resumed her journeying toward Tokyo.

At her arrival there the whole populace seemed in an uproar, the excited
mobs everywhere crying:

"To the swamp! to the wilderness! The yamabushi![21] the vile! the
disloyal! Asano! Kurano! Maido! Let their bodies be ripped!"

Takara shuddered when she heard the fierce rabble, and her heart poured
out its measure. Divining Maido's last thought, she hastened forward in
the hope of reaching him before too late to deliver the word that would
give him peace before death. Leaving her carriers at the wood side, she
clambered through the mire and under the big trees. Time and again the
weird, painful sound grated upon her ears as one after another of the
victims said his last:

"Sayonari."

She struggled on, not knowing which way to go, until she had come within
hearing of the mysterious voice of the hidden executioner, who called in
rotation the names of those that were performing the honoured rite. She
stole after him, and upon calling the name of her lord and master's
father she rushed ahead in time to greet him with the assurance that was
to him a recompense for all his trials and sorrow.

Fortunately Takara did not see the sickening evidence of his prolonged
and terrible suffering; his abused limbs had sunken into the mire, and
she saw only that he had died the death of honour. And she felt happy
that she had reached him in time, though Shibusawa knew not that she
carried the message. Maido's joy rewarded her.

The luckless woman's captor rudely hurried her through the woods, and
departing the scene she did not look back. She made no resistance, but
obeyed the eager fellow's command; nor did she think much of the
consequences. She tramped along, and as they went the air grew more
stifling. The hot breath of the forest rose and choked them, and upon
reaching the open they found it there, too, suffocating.

Continuing toward the city, they presently reached the outskirts
exhausted--the keeper more than his prisoner--and climbing to the top of
a low hill halted for the night. Here there stood a temple, and near by
a small tea house in which he undertook, because of his inability to go
farther, to hold her captive; proposing to rest until morning,
proceeding then to Ikamon's dungeon, the intended place of her
imprisonment. Having securely lodged the hopeful woman in a small
detached room, the ponderous captor refreshed himself and lay down in
front to keep guard.

The humbled daughter of a proud royalty had failed in her mission, yet
in that failure fate had revealed to her the sweetest rite, the
consoling of a dying friend. Maido's lips had been sealed, but in that
there arose a fresh desire, and had Takara been privileged to meet the
living as she had parted with the dead, she would gladly have resigned
herself to her doom. The new responsibility made imperative to her the
seemingly hopeless task of again reaching Shibusawa.



                              CHAPTER XXX

                             THE EARTHQUAKE


Takara did not give much thought to her imprisonment or the disposition
that might be made of her; she felt too tired for that, and had no
sooner been left alone than she fell fast asleep. It was quite different
though with Bansuro her keeper. He rested hardly any, and could think of
nothing but the reward surely to be had for bringing to the high court a
spy of so great consequence; for had he not, he reasoned, captured her
while in the very act of conversing with the condemned? And would not
Ikamon rejoice?

Bansuro had not seen Hontone, Takara's head carrier and only protector,
as he shadowed and watched them like a sleuth. Not satisfied with his
mistress' having gone into the woods alone, he followed and watched from
a distance her every movement, and when caged alone in the room at the
tea house he felt her safe for the night. Hontone then ran away and
brought his fellows, and in the dark and without discovery they planned
her rescue.

They lay in the bushes growing about the old, neglected temple, with its
crumbling beams and weather-cracked siding, and were within easy reach
of the cosey place where Takara slept a prisoner. Now and then Hontone
would steal near and listen, then return with the assurance that she yet
rested safely. Presently, as the night darkened, the air grew murky and
difficult of breathing. It had been intensely sultry all day, but now
there came from everywhere hollow soundings, and a hushed silence spread
over the earth.

The carriers crouched down and stared blankly; not one of them ventured
to speak. The suspense was dreadful and Hontone whispered:

"It is an earthquake!"

Presently they were thrown straight up from the ground, and then down
and up, while a mad rumbling sounded in their ears. Their senses seemed
suddenly to depart, and they felt as if no certainty of anything
remained. A short, breathless lull followed, and then there came another
great pounding, as if from beneath, some monster drove at the earth's
crust with a huge hammer. The beams split, the walls cracked, and the
tiles rattled down from the roofs. Everywhere the people ran frantic,
with dishevelled hair and glaring eyes. They groped at nothing, and
cried pitifully. The earth rumbled on, and again they were shocked and
thrown from their feet. The ground gaped, and frightened men tumbled
headlong or balanced at the edge of dark, bottomless crevices. Thousands
fell and their pitiful cries arose from the mysterious deep or died away
with a faint echoing of its awful uncertainty. The fire flashed up and
burned fiercely among the débris of falling walls and thatched roofs.
The cries of the penned-in victims tore their hearts, and they ran
hither and thither, bewildered and uncertain. And when the cruel,
heartless earthquake had done its frightful work, and there seemed no
chance for greater havoc, there came a roaring and crashing as if the
sea were rolling onward, crushing and tossing and mangling in its
terrible track the half-living who had escaped the lesser, if more
frightful, danger. As the tidal wave came on, grinding and swallowing
the earth with gluttonous fury, they huddled and waited. There was
nothing to do, no hope to cherish, for they knew not a Home beyond.
Their god dwelt where the reason finds its sway, and faith is but a
factor in what we know.

The mighty wave, rolling inland, tossed upon its crest the treasures of
the deep and threw them high upon the mountain side. There were whales
of the ocean and ships of the sea hurled a hundred feet above its level
and carried miles from its shore. And when the waters receded, carrying
likewise the things of the earth, much of the consequences of the
terrible disaster went with them. Nor was it satisfied to wash away its
own rubbish, but it had carried off, forever, secrets not its own. The
dead bodies of Ikamon's vengeful thirst, too, had gone; they were no
more, and the tale of their passing lived only in the memory of the few.
The many had a multitude of their own to mourn.

It was an awful catastrophe, and its victims were legion. Still Takara
had escaped; at the first warning of the earthquake her keeper had
flown--there was no prisoner penned in Ikamon's dungeon on the morrow,
nor any report made of the attempt. After the first shock had passed,
Hontone sprang from his hiding-place and seizing Takara, with his strong
arms threw her upon his back and ran back into the bushes, where they
all clung fast to the roots and lay prone for their lives. Takara knew
her men, and happily resigned herself to their protection. Nor did she
surrender amiss, for they not only saved her from the fury of the
elements, but on the morrow carried her forth from the city unmolested
and unnoticed.

Several days had passed before they again reached Kyoto, where Takara
rewarded her faithful men, and sought retirement and that rest which
soon restored her peace of mind, though the great sorrow continued to
weigh heavily upon her heart.

While Takara had failed of her purpose she felt that she had done some
good, since she had brought at death some peace to the one who--more
than any other, not excepting her own husband--had in some measure come
to understand her. She knew that she had done in the past what she
believed to be her part, and now that a new purpose and a larger life
had dawned she resolved to make herself worthy the trial. Holding her
counsel, thenceforth she began the work with an earnestness and
faithfulness that bespoke her true character.



                              CHAPTER XXXI

                            THE CHILD'S FATE


Though the earthquake had spared no part of the capital, and devastated
equally among the high and the lowly, the tidal wave did not rise to the
top of the numerous hills spreading over the city. Thus many were saved,
and by some unknown freak of fate Ikamon remained among them.

Nor did he suffer much regret; for it had been the certain means of
destroying the unsightly evidence of his dastardly act, as well as an
occasion for the distraction of the public mind. He had been anxious
enough to get rid of his accounted enemies, but did not much relish the
talk about it; and now that the nation had been inflicted with a great
calamity that would distract their minds, he appeared really glad at
heart. The dead daimyos' succession engaged his attention first, and
hastening to bury the official notification beneath the excitement of
the moment he began on the very next day to forward letters of advice
and condolence.

The prime minister's expressions of sorrow, especially to Shibusawa,
were more than profuse; they were prodigal, and ended by admonishing
this young daimyo to repose in him that implicit confidence which "it
had been the good fortune of his happy father before him to possess." He
cautioned him to look well to the shogun's procedures, and speed the day
of his coming to Tokyo to prostrate his person at the feet of his august
highness.

While Ikamon had been so fortunate in escaping disaster, the same did
not prove entirely so with Tetsutaisho. At his house the first shock
occasioned much excitement, and dire disaster followed in the wake of
the phenomenon. Kinsan had not retired for the night, but sat trilling
and musing in her chamber. The child in its kimono lay sleeping on the
floor near by, while the warm, sultry air floated in at the house sides,
where the slides had not yet been closed. The tall trees overhanging her
veranda seemed more shadowless than ever before, and she peered, as she
so often did, into the dark solitude outside.

At the first tremor she ran and clasped Sodachinojoi in her arms; then
crouched upon the floor, waiting with breathless expectation. In a
moment--it seemed an age--Nehachibana flew into the room, with her hair
dishevelled and eyes wild and furtive. Shrieking and wailing she
implored Ninigi, now god of earth, to forego his quarrel with Sosanoo,
and cease tormenting the good people of Jimmu. Kinsan parleyed with her
to be calm, and come and sit by her side; but this she would not do, for
she now bitterly hated her whom she thought to be her only rival. She
would not be consoled, and when the second shock rent the earth beneath
them and the house timbers parted and the heavy tiling fell upon their
heads a ghastly smile crossed her face, and she played and snapped her
fingers, and stole toward the deep, hollow crater opening beneath the
rent in the floor.

A falling tile had struck Kinsan a blow on the head and she lay helpless
at the edge of the gap in the floor, held only by her clothing from
sliding into the yawning crevice below. The child was unhurt; it played
upon the tilted mat, and cooed without a sense of its own peril.
Nehachibana leaned over it, anxious and breathless. Her eyes flashed and
she spoke incoherently, saying;

"Shall I end this wicked sorrow?"

Suddenly the mat slipped and the child slid into the gaping earth, and
not a sound arose to tell of its terrible fate. Nehachibana made no
effort to stay death's angry claim, but recoiled from it and charged
herself with remorse at having lost the chance to take revenge with her
own hand. Then she braced herself and with set teeth said:

"It is not too late!"

Plunging forward and grappling the listless, helpless form that lay
heavily upon the brink, she tugged and pushed it almost over, then
stopped and weirdly looked around. There was no one there, but the
thought startled her, and she said:

"No. I can take a better revenge."

Pulling her intended victim away from the dangerous place, Nehachibana
brought water in a dish, and showered it in her face; then went away,
and by the time she had revived she returned, offering assistance and
nourishment. Many weeks passed before Kinsan fully recovered, and not
until then had she been told of the fate of Tetsutaisho's son.

No one had witnessed the sad scene except Nehachibana, and she took care
to remain silent and undiscovered. Kinsan took the blame all upon
herself and sorrowed deeply and pined much over the loss. Tetsutaisho
was grief stricken, and for a long time unable to reconcile himself to
his only son's destruction, hence became more kindly disposed toward
Kinsan and solicitous for her love. She, however, remained steadfast and
true to herself, seeking in every right way to serve her master and
atone for the great sorrow that she charged herself with having brought
upon him. The disappointed wife in the meantime resorted to every
artifice within her weakened range to win Tetsutaisho for herself, and
no material change took place among them until she had fully resolved
that no hope remained.

Takara had not heard of the disappearance of the child. In fact, having
little means of gaining any knowledge of him without too great danger to
all concerned, she had long ago ceased to worry about his fortunes. The
past was now more than ever a blank to her. She devoted herself to the
day at hand, untrammelled by that which had gone before.

Kido, her friend and counsellor, had called a new meeting of the
daimyos, confining his invitations to the south and only such others as
he knew to be safe. They had been warned against Daikomitsu by Takara,
and wisely heeded her advice: the mikado's cause was a sacred right, and
its supporters knew no such thing as disloyalty; their claims were
founded upon principle and their measures smacked not of the charlatan.
Kido, the recognised "head and pen," Saigo, the accredited "heart and
sword"--they planned nobly and stood ready to fight honourably.

As they had been anxious to secure Maido's friendship before, they were
hopeful of claiming Shibusawa's after the succession, and Takara,
bending all her energies to that end, would gladly have sacrificed home,
position, everything, to secure and advance him at the mikado's court.
No one knew better than she that his sympathies were more in accord with
their ideals than with the shogunate's; and could they but enlist him
they would be in a position to withstand, if not overwhelm, the enemy.
It became a duty with Takara, and Shibusawa rose to be her god.

He on the other hand, knowing himself, and cognisant of his strength,
dared not act so quickly. True, his faith in the shogunate was rapidly
being shattered--not alone because of his father's wanton
destruction--nor did bitterness poison him; he could see beyond vicious
revenge. There were at stake the destinies of a nation, the survival of
a civilisation, and the maintenance of a principle that gave or took the
liberties of mankind. He must first see the right, then succeed even at
the cost of life.

He still doubted Takara, even, in a measure, after learning something of
her heroic sacrifices. In serving Maido, she had also served him, told
him that his father had died by an honourable rite, to Shibusawa not the
chiefest, but a high aim. He thanked her from his heart and promised a
blessing, though Daikomitsu he dismissed as unworthy a hearing. He had
less desire to avenge an act than to right a wrong, and when the
would-be-trickster sought his aid in setting the ronin to move on what
he professed to be a common enemy, Shibusawa frowned him away, saying:

"Please do not encourage the thought, much less the act."

Daikomitsu, however, not so easily frustrated, had a purpose of his own,
and sought in other ways to further his schemes, though a tangle ensued
where he least desired. The ronin were his fit instruments, and knowing
their readiness he sought and before the winter had passed set them well
in motion. He not only had done this, but knew better than others just
how the forces of state were scattered; and carrying his knowledge with
him went to Tokyo and there posed as the wise man from the south, and
incidentally, among the prime minister's enemies, as a most likely
successor to Ikamon.

The malcontents offered the means, Ikamon's removal the place, and the
ronin the instrument, through which Daikomitsu was to rise and prepare
the way to reach Takara's heart. Keeping well out of the way of
Shibusawa, who, therefore, gave his movements no further concern, the
apparent dullard proved equal to the occasion, and along these lines
made the advance.



                             CHAPTER XXXII

                              RONIN RAIDS


Owing to unsettled conditions the ensuing winter proved most opportune
for Daikomitsu to further his schemes and advance his prospects. Much
dissatisfaction had grown out of Ikamon's cold-blooded work, and even
his friends were shocked at his audacity. While he still maintained
control of the shogun's party, he held them together only with
considerable difficulty, and long before the final blow came found
himself in dire straits for sufficient support, even the protection of
Tetsutaisho.

Outside of Tokyo his doings were looked upon as the voice of the
shogunate and his acts charged thereto, while at home a feeling gained
ground that the power must be wrested from his hands and the party
restored to its former status. Many realised that they could not long
stand before the inroads of the foreigners on the one hand and the cry
of the populace on the other. Ikamon's friendly concession had ceased to
satisfy the one, and his daring blow failed to crush the other; his
enemies were eager for his downfall, and Daikomitsu offered the most
potent, if not reasonable solution. Therefore they welcomed him and
winked at his questionable doings.

After placing himself on friendly terms with the ronin, Daikomitsu began
urging them to greater activity, and as they had already become eager
for some chance again to make themselves felt they were only too easily
inflamed. Although these strange bands of marauders held many grievances
they advanced no definite policy, and allied themselves with no
particular party or faction; they had come into existence through an
infraction of the law and lived and thrived best on disorder. The
friendship of one so high in the councils of state as Daikomitsu they
considered a license as well as an honour; and, listening earnestly to
his counsel, advanced, before spring had come, afresh upon their
terrible raids.

Daikomitsu kept himself well informed as to their movements, and long
before they had concentrated upon Tokyo had gone there and begun the
rebuilding of his popularity. Managing to elude his acquaintances at
Kyoto and get away without arousing suspicion as to his intentions and
aspirations even Takara did not divine his real purposes, and Kido knew
nothing of them and cared less about him. Nor did his friends, professed
or otherwise, in Tokyo know anything about his connection with the
ronin, but (when they thought of him at all) considered him a statesman
and a patriot, without any direct connection with any party or faction
at either place. They knew he was of the literati and a kuge by birth,
but counted him equally a friend to the true shogunate.

All the major wrongs complained of by the ronin were directly
chargeable, as they thought, to the shogunate, and in consequence their
activities began in that direction. Assuming the disguise of various
occupations many of them gathered at Tokyo, marking their victims and
preparing to make good their own escape. Regular meetings were held and
all movements directed orderly and with despatch, so that as a whole
they made no mistakes, while each member bound himself by an inviolable
oath. They had been worked up to the belief that Ikamon was responsible
for everything, and lest he should escape, early marked him as their
first victim and awaited only the word of Daikomitsu, who in due time
said:

"Take the principal first. You can better right the wrong after the
instigator is gone."

Ikamon, with all his spies, remained ignorant of the plot against him,
probably because he considered Daikomitsu his friend and believed in the
crude contrivances advanced to throw him off his guard; possibly because
of his being beset with a multiplicity of dangers, for these were to him
hard and trying times. He could trust no one now except Yasuko, his
wife, who had remained loyal to him and proud of his achievements. She
knew not the reason, nor did she question his motives; she trusted him,
and that was to her enough.

"I shall be home early to-day, Yasuko," said Ikamon as he parted, bowing
politely to his wife, and started off on a blustering morning in March
to attend to some official duties which called him outside.

"Then Yasuko is happy, and will abide here and look until you come,"
said she in answer.

She did look, for he had never deceived her, as she knew; and she saw
the most frightful thing, and fell to the floor weeping bitterly. Her
husband did not return; but in passing the Sakurado gate had been set
upon by the ronin, and, without any chance of defence or escape,
beheaded; and his head placed upon a long pole, carried high in the air,
was planted at his door.

This gruesome sight greeted Yasuko when she looked out along the roadway
where she had so often watched her husband's coming and welcomed his
entrance. So swift had been the work of his assailants that none could
offer resistance or interfere until the deed had been accomplished and
the warning carried into the midst of his own household. There they
staked their trophy high in the air, and departing made so good their
escape that no one knew until a later day who had done the hideous work.

The removal of Ikamon proved an effective blow to his policy, and
brought about a speedy reorganisation of the party. Hitotsubashi's
regency was made certain, and Daikomitsu with little opposition chosen
prime minister; in fact, the latter had been decided upon by the former
incumbent's enemies before the butchery occurred.

The main opposition, however, came from Tetsutaisho, though Ikamon's
absence left him illy prepared to cope with the opposition in the
council chamber or at the lobby. Still he developed sufficient strength
to maintain his own position and wrest from them, finally, his promotion
to commander-in-chief of all the shogun's forces. In this he was
considered fortunate; and even he, himself, deemed his place more secure
under the new régime than under the old. He reasoned that it could not
have been long before Ikamon's downfall would have come from another
source, and in that event he would himself, perhaps, have been less able
to force recognition as a result of his own strength. He had grown wiser
with experience, and no longer desired particularly to fly at the tail
of another man's kite. Daikomitsu had early learned that Tetsutaisho was
a friend of the army and they his main supporters, and of late made
every endeavour to cultivate the popular general's friendship. He had
always taken pains not to give Tetsutaisho the impression that he
himself rivalled the latter's brother-in-law; but on the contrary had
assumed such a plausible friendship to both that the liberal-minded
commander never really knew the secret of the wise man's success.

Yet, with all his tolerance, he did not care to trust the new prime
minister too much. He lacked confidence in his ability and remained not
at all sanguine as to his motives; still he would not let any man's
preferment stand between him and his shogun's government. Loyalty was
his watchword, and honour, as measured by feudal standards, his virtue;
neither of which, from his way of thinking, could possibly be attained
outside of the shogunate.

Position he had; for wealth he cared not. His friends he worshipped; to
his enemies he gave no quarter. He lived for the love of living, and
believed the mode made right the result. So far as he knew his own
advancement had come more as a matter of consequence than as a reward
for effort. He considered himself amenable to established law, and such
a thing as a shogun's wrong-doing had no place in the mind of
Tetsutaisho.



                             CHAPTER XXXIII

                         THE RISE OF SHIBUSAWA


The untimely death of Ikamon caused little regret, even at Tokyo; no
attempt was made to apprehend his murderers, and Daikomitsu settled
down, satisfied in the enjoyment of his emoluments. Shibusawa remained
without his sphere and Takara soon ceased to supersede the ease and
comfort flowing from official complaisance. The new policy encouraged
quietude, but lacked stability, and only, perhaps, Shibusawa fathomed
the true cause for unrest.

Yet, being unprepared, he could take no part in its effective solution.
Like his father before him he had held himself aloof as much as possible
from the turmoils of state, devoting his energies to internal security
and improvement; not because of seeking to shirk his duties, but that he
might better prepare himself for the responsibilities. He knew in his
own heart that from the day Perry's guns first sounded in the harbour
the foreigner had secured a permanent foothold, and that with him he had
brought a new life, the introduction of which meant more to them than
all the family quarrels and local measures of all the centuries that had
gone before.

Not only this, but he saw that in adapting themselves to the new
relations feudalism must go, and with it there would and should fall
some of the evil tendencies of the day; none disapproved by him more
than that of class limitation upon marriage. He had come to believe the
home the foundation of all organised society, and held that as it
harmonised the affinities of life so government should make possible the
highest beauties consistent with universality; and as time went on
repeated confirmations of his views so strengthened his belief that he
began to search for a means of absorbing as much of the new civilisation
as might be forced upon them, or as should seem beneficial, without
losing in any measure their own autonomy. Finally he had abandoned all
hope in the shogunate and, in consequence, begun to look toward the
mikadate. It seemed his only natural alternative; possibly the most
logical one.

Daikomitsu on the other hand found himself more completely submerged in
the shogunate than he at first anticipated. He had intended to rid
himself of the ronin, but not until their attack upon the foreign
legation at Tokyo did he succeed, emerging with a complete vindication
of his true diplomatic qualities. He had not only effectually cleared
the country of these desperadoes, but placed himself upon a high
pedestal, and even Tetsutaisho began to admire him, though he could not
fully respect him.

During the transition stage, lasting from Daikomitsu's accession to the
death of Komei, Shibusawa had ample time to prepare for the work himself
planned or by others thrust upon him. These were trying times; this a
patient, energetic, and ambitious people, and not alone fate, but
fortune proved a moving force behind their destiny. From the first
Takara's hand had been felt, though Shibusawa knew it not. She developed
among the adherents of the south a strength that gave her voice in the
councils shadowing the court at Kyoto, and she used it to advance a
single purpose--the only one, as she thought, consistent with her duties
as a wife and her position as a kuge--furthering the cause of her
husband and building the fortunes of the mikado.

Gradually though unconsciously this influence began to be felt by
Shibusawa, and before he knew it he had gone so far into national
affairs that he needs must play an important part. Nor did he give
himself solely to political matters, for Kinsan remained ever before
him; and though without possible communication he loved her constantly
and truly. He saw in her more and more the ideal of existence, the soul
of the universe, the crowning glory of all that is. He longed for her
and had he the power would have sought her and claimed her and taken
her, even though his former convictions had been true or remained
uncontradicted. Without knowing her sacrifices, something told him that
her heart was true, and he asked of himself:

"After all, of what consequence is the flesh?"

Taking advantage of a measure enacted early under Daikomitsu's
incumbency, authorising the daimyos and princes of the blood to remove
their families and lawful kin from the capital, Shibusawa asked his
sister Yasuko to come to him, and though still mourning the loss of her
husband she accepted the invitation and proved to be a great consolation
to her brother, they becoming fast and true friends and she a liberal
adviser. In her he found a companionship that helped him through the
many events leading up to his call to the front, though in no measure
did it deter him from shaping a course toward his high ideal.

The mikado had taken it upon himself to send an embassy to Europe and
America to examine and report conditions, while the shogun had in person
conferred with his highness at Kyoto. The latter event resolved itself
into a proposal by the mikado that the shogun accompany him on a
pilgrimage to the temple Hachiman at Yamashiro, that he might deliver
his own sword to the mighty war god Ojin, thus inducing his celestial
mightiness to drive out the "barbarian foreigners"; at which the shogun
somewhat reluctantly expressed his indisposition to join in such a
hazardous undertaking, thereupon retiring to his own stronghold; never
again proposing or sanctioning a conference with his "heavenly
brother-in-power."

Shortly after this, possibly for the purpose of encouraging a breach
between the two courts, several of the southern daimyos, together with
Saigo, Iwakura, and some other kuge attempted to carry off to the
southward the person of the mikado, and were prevented in their daring
scheme only by the timely interference of Shibusawa. He had been urged
into taking the step by Takara through the auspices of Kido, and for the
heroism displayed gained high esteem at Kyoto; the schemers themselves
coming gradually to respect him and Saigo to believe in him. Henceforth
Shibusawa attended their councils and his voice rose to be felt, while
Takara began to worship him, and used all her energies and influence to
further his friendship with the mikado and raise his standing in the
south.

Soon after, the Shimonoseki affair once more roused the country; and the
report of the foreign embassy maddened them. They had returned and said
in substance:

"_We_ are the barbarians!"

In consequence of this, as the mikado remarked, "foolish report," the
embassy were forthwith reprimanded and deprived of office; the mikado
declaring:

"Diabolical spirits rule in this land of the gods, intending to do away
with customs dear to us. They must forthwith be driven out."

Nor was he alone in his belief, for before the close of the season his
rabid adherents rallied and defeated a detachment of the shogun's army
sent against them; encouraging the mikado to issue the famous edict
against the Christians, whereby more than three thousand converts fell
victims to its bane and were distributed among the daimyos as slaves at
common labour. Nor were they protected by the shogun nor greatly mourned
by their friends; the dislike of the foreigners had become so rooted
that even the shogunate seemed a crumbling structure ready to fall at
the first organised assault. The revolt spread; but, at the call of a
new leader, who raised the banner of right shorn of weakness and purged
of the last taint of bigotry and dark mysticism.

Shibusawa proved the man of the hour, and he brought honesty and
intelligence to the rally of courage and patriotism. He arose in his
power, put a check upon blind impulse, and set in motion the forces that
were to start the wheels of progress, to open the way to a place in the
sisterhood of nations. Addressing a letter to the mikado he said:

"The western foreigners of to-day are different from those of a former
day. They are much more advanced and powerful; the conflict is an
unequal one, and Japan will be shattered like roofing tile. The cry that
reaches you comes from those who do not understand; it is a misfortune
longer to attempt to close our doors. Instead let us devote ourselves to
house-building, husbandry, forestry, jurisprudence, and science, and the
benefits derived will more than offset the loss sustained at the hands
of the foreigners. There is a better way to meet their aggression than
by resort to force, and if your majesty will so permit we pledge
ourselves to serve you, the divine and rightful ruler of this land."

The letter had its effect, and thenceforth there were but two parties,
both of which tolerated the foreigner, and with one of which every loyal
citizen must sooner or later cast his fortunes. In the following autumn
Iyemochi died, and Hitotsubashi proclaimed his successor, began to
discharge the offices of shogun, as the vacillating tool of the
strongest triumvirate that had yet undertaken to rehabilitate the waning
powers of a rapidly fading court.

Hitotsubashi proved an easy dupe and ready listener by turns to
Daikomitsu, Okotsuba, and Tetsutaisho, the three ministers who were
destined to guide the fortunes of the tottering shogunate till the last
faint quiver told of its final collapse, while Mutsuhito, succeeding the
deceased mikado, Komie, in the following spring, began that series of
brilliant moves which welded together the hearts of his people and
secured to him his rightful position as supreme and undivided ruler of
his country. From this time forth the mikadate were united upon one
thing--the downfall of the shogunate. They had had enough of dual
government, with its intrigues and dangers--if glorious--and the liberal
Mutsuhito pledged himself to the constitution, by which Shibusawa had
proposed the people's rights, and for which he gave his undivided
support.

The time had come to strike, and when Shibusawa proposed in open council
that Kido be instructed to address a letter to Hitotsubashi as shogun,
Saigo rose and asked its purport. Shibusawa answered:

"Advise the shogun to abdicate in favour of the mikado."

A stillness settled over the chamber, then a roar of applause burst
forth such as had never before been heard. The giant Saigo thundered his
approval, white-haired men leaped in the air, and everybody shouted:

"Long live the mikado!"

The letter, demanding an immediate answer, forthwith reached the hands
of Daikomitsu, who, startled with the warning, repaired to the temple of
Shiba, and there prayed to Omikami for light, that he might not "stumble
in the darkness." Acting upon the advice of this good goddess he laid
the matter before his associates in the triumvirate, resulting in a
division of opinion.

Tetsutaisho was a samurai, and none such ever dreamed of defeat. A
thousand years of feudalism had well taught them their profession.
Continued success made them believe themselves invincible. The shogun
was their idol and war their deliverance. Thus the commander-in-chief
urged the shogun's defence, and would not agree to any other means than
force. He was overruled and a more diplomatic course proposed, yet he
sulked and withheld approval. Tetsutaisho had assented to Hitotsubashi's
assumption of the functions of shogun because he believed it necessary;
and he was perfectly willing that he should be held and used as a dupe,
but this letter from the south appeared to be a direct attack upon the
shogunate, and no matter who was shogun he believed it high time to
strike rather than quibble. Daikomitsu answered:

"A resignation from Hitotsubashi, an incumbent, can in no manner affect
the shogunate, an established institution. If the people want to
continue the one they will restore the other, besides such an act would
forever put the question out of our way. It would also confuse and
baffle the opposition, thus giving us time to prepare an effective
defence."

"But we are prepared," answered Tetsutaisho.

"I doubt it."

"Then you distrust the samurai?"

"No."

"What then?"

"Hitotsubashi."

"He has no following."

"He has friends, and we can best insure their support and the enemies'
confusion by advising this resignation. They dread us more than him."

"The opposition has given us a splendid chance," interposed Okotsuba.

"And we are wasting our opportunities," answered Tetsutaisho.

"We have no cause to move; we do not recognise the combination," said
Daikomitsu.

"The resignation will test their purpose. I say let us send it
forthwith," said Okotsuba, recognising the force of Daikomitsu's
argument.

"I recommend it," said Daikomitsu, earnestly.

"I do not approve of it," answered Tetsutaisho resolutely.

Upon the theory that his resignation would not in fact be accepted,
Hitotsubashi finally signed the letter of resignation; whereupon,
without any serious dissension, it was forwarded to Kyoto, and
Daikomitsu felt relieved, though puzzled as to what the next move would
be.



                             CHAPTER XXXIV

                         NEHACHIBANA'S REVENGE


Tetsutaisho, not at all pleased with the result of the conference nor
convinced of the wisdom of Daikomitsu's diplomacy, had been persuaded
quietly to acquiesce, at least for the time being; and going home
settled down, probably for the first time in his life, to a calm and
deliberate consideration for the future. Presently he became uneasy and,
with unsettled thoughts, said to himself:

"Pshaw! Why this worry? Let others stew and fuss: I am a soldier, and
have a better business at hand. I shall seek Kinsan and let her sing to
me--it is soothing, and more to the purpose of a gentleman."

He did so, and she impressed him more than ever with the melody of her
song. Probably it was because of the clear, crisp air of a winter's
night's inspiration; more likely it had been a consciousness of her
master's growing gentleness, or the hope within that some day her heart
would soften and her mind cease its vigil. Whatever it may have been,
she poured out that lofty sentiment that ever eases a lonely, earnest
soul. She sang sweetly, and the rising notes wafted out upon the still
air, reaching and piercing another who had grown to hate with the
vengeance and covet with the fury of a maddened fiend.

Nehachibana listened. She could bear it no longer, and with bated breath
and snapping fingers stole upon them. There in the bright light she saw
them, and stopped as if drunk with envy. He sat with his face upturned;
Kinsan stood at one side, looking far, far away, and her voice trembled
with a pathos that stayed even her destroyer. Nehachibana crouched, then
sprang at her, shrieking:

"Geisha! Adulteress! Murderer!"

The sudden fright overcame Kinsan; she ceased singing, then choked for
breath and stood trembling, with her head drooping; she coloured, then
turned ashen.

Tetsutaisho arose and advancing toward his wife said in a calm voice:

"What do you mean, Nehachibana?"

"That joro is the murderer of your child, Sodachinojoi! I saw it with my
own eyes."

Turning upon Kinsan, but without advancing, Tetsutaisho said harshly:

"Is this true?"

Kinsan made no answer, nor did she raise her eyes, but stood nervously
toying with the folds of her obie. Perhaps she did not hear him, heeded
only his neglect. Why did he not turn to her as he had so often done,
and soothe her with his kind words and shield her from her accuser? The
question burned at her already aching heart, and no one answered.

Tetsutaisho, turning around politely, said to Nehachibana:

"Please retire to your own apartment and there wait my coming. I shall
want further to converse with you this evening. Obey me and go now, will
you?"

Nehachibana made no protest, but departed as bidden, glancing sidewise
at Kinsan; her eyes sparkled, her lip curled, and she smiled the secret
of her heart. Kinsan neither spoke to her nor pleaded with her, but
looked at Nehachibana with softened eyes, and a great pity welled up
from the bottom of her heart.

After Nehachibana had left the room Tetsutaisho approached Kinsan and
said with low emphasis:

"And this is how you have served your master?"

Again she did not answer; it was because she could not. She only sobbed
with a broken heart. Tetsutaisho clapped his hands and a servant came
quickly toward him.

"The guards!" said he; then calmly stood surveying his victim.

He had but a short time to wait until they came, though it served
Tetsutaisho to cover well in his heated memory the last few years.
Likely Kinsan did the same, but hers was a different mood. He did not
ask himself the reason, and consulted only impulse; he may have let
hatred enter his heart, for he now began to suspect as well as doubt his
once upon a time passing friend, Daikomitsu.

From the time Daikomitsu first came into official position at Tokyo he
had been a constant if not wholly welcome guest at Tetsutaisho's house.
From the beginning he had divined Nehachibana's master passion, and
always tried as best he could to relieve her hard distress. He had also
observed Kinsan and cultivated her friendship, not that he loved her,
but because he admired her wonderful gift. He, a patron of art and lover
of the beautiful, quickly appreciated Kinsan's powers, and instinctively
knew and respected her virtue. That Nehachibana was entirely wrong in
her attitude toward Kinsan he had been fully convinced, and long hoped
sometime to advise the one of her false impressions and relieve the
other of her natural predicament. Thus he had become a familiar visitor,
and his attentions were bestowed no less upon the one than the other.
Tetsutaisho had never frowned upon any of these courtesies, in fact
rather encouraged them, feeling honoured by the prime minister's warm
attentions. He had, consequently, upon more than one occasion, freely
given Daikomitsu the loan of Kinsan to sing at entertainments of high
degree; and however vulgar the southern prince may have been in other
ways, and whatever may have been Tetsutaisho's conclusions at this late
day, the former's intercourse with the latter's family certainly had
been of the purest and most honourable kind.

By the time the guards had arrived Tetsutaisho had worked himself up to
the proper degree of feeling, however, and without further ado pointed
to Kinsan, saying in a commanding tone of voice:

"To the dungeon!"

As she was being hurried from the house Tetsutaisho turned his back upon
the one he had so long coveted, and hastened to his wife, nervously
listening to her clear and unequivocal denunciation. She told him
without a blush how she had come upon Kinsan while in the act of
flinging the sleeping child into the dark crevice, and how she had
suffered through all these years with fear, and how she had hesitated to
disclose to him her knowledge of the awful deed because she believed his
love for Kinsan would bring a punishment upon herself.

"You will forgive me, my most honourable husband, will you not?" said
she, calmly and invitingly.

He did not deign to answer her, though his strong frame trembled as an
ungoverned rage leaped to the fore and grew within him. For Nehachibana
he had no compassion; nothing but regret. He mourned his lost son, and
waxed hot with anger.

"She shall die, and that by the saw!" said he, in a half-crazed
undertone.

"No, no; give me the chance; I'll devise a torment!" said Nehachibana,
quickly.

"You? And why you?"

Nehachibana stared blankly. She did not comprehend. She had no answer.
He looked at her and for the first time realised the truth. He knew in a
moment the awful consequences of his life. He would then have recalled
Kinsan, but the loss of his only son was more than he could bear;
without a thought of further inquiry he believed her guilty; if not of
murder then of unfaithfulness, and according to his code either gave
sufficient cause; her punishment must follow as the only lawful
consequence.

Thus he parted with Nehachibana without further denial or assurance, and
she felt happy and satisfied with her revenge; and when Daikomitsu
called the next evening, she made haste to express her delight, offering
no pretence of shielding Kinsan's wicked fate. The prime minister was
shocked at her lack of feeling, and listened to her with astonishment;
she did not stop with revelling at Kinsan's sorrow, but lauded the
infant of whom she knew her husband to be the father, and flattered
herself at the thought of its highborn mother.

Daikomitsu sat dumfoundered and full of pity until his informant
volunteered to disclose the name of Sodachinojoi's mother, then he
started and with frightened voice said:

"Nehachibana! You must cease gabbling."

"A-h-!" said she, with a drawled accent.

"Promise me that you will never again mention Takara's name. Will you do
this much for me?" said he nervously.

She snapped her fingers fiercely, and without taking her eyes away said,
slowly:

"I shall not speak her name again."

Daikomitsu knew that her promise would never be broken, and went his way
somewhat relieved, yet overwhelmed; for he also knew that what she
related as a fact must likewise be true--such an one never mistaking a
truth or breaking a promise, when made or known. Nor was he alone
shocked at the revelation of Takara's dreadful secret; he felt equally
pained at Kinsan's misfortune. The former he would take time to
consider, but the latter he should right at once; else suffer a great
wrong to befall not only her, but Nehachibana and Tetsutaisho as well.

On the following day the prime minister sent post-haste for Tetsutaisho,
asking him to come at once to his house, then approaching him kindly,
advised that he forego so severe a punishment, at least until time
should make its justice certain.

"And you would also interfere with our private affairs? What next may
not a gentleman expect? Pray tell me," said Tetsutaisho rather
sarcastically.

"No. I thought possibly the motherhood of this child might sometime be
questioned by a higher power, and in that case my friend Tetsutaisho
might have serious need for this Kinsan whom he has so lightly
condemned," said Daikomitsu, in answer.

"Then you know as much?"

"I would rather that you should be the judge."

"Very well; I shall place her in the stocks. It will answer my purpose
quite as well and, now that I come to think, it may be a more befitting
punishment--and, also, a convenience to you. You can better visit her in
my back yard, Daikomitsu."

"I may do so--to see that Tetsutaisho is as faithful in granting her
that liberty as he has been punctual in making me the promise."

"Tetsutaisho is a man of honour."

"I believe it, else I should have sought another means."

Tetsutaisho was not so much mystified at Daikomitsu's request as
overawed with the apparent threat, for he knew the prime minister to be
a favourite with the shogun and did not wish just yet to put to a test
their respective strength before that tribunal; and could easily infer
from his words a determination to go even so far. Nor did he court the
idea of exposure, particularly at Kyoto; by this time knowing Takara to
be quite as anxious as he, and feeling that he must shield her at any
cost. Thus he had hastily concluded to delay Kinsan's destruction, and
gratify the law's permit by meting out a meaner penalty.

On the next day, therefore, the frail Kinsan with downcast eyes and
haggard appearance was turned loose in the back grounds of her master's
dwelling, there to carry, day and night, through rain or sunshine, the
heavy stocks, clasped about her neck and weighted upon her tender
shoulders.

And there, taunted and alone, she bore her punishment without a murmur,
and sinking exhausted at night always offered prayers for the one she
loved, and for those whom she believed she had wronged and who had in
charity granted her the privilege of even such an existence. Having
already suffered in her own heart far more than death, now that the
day's penalty had been imposed, she felt better able to bear her part;
and was glad for life, though bitter it be, that she might atone for the
wickedness with which she unknowingly held herself charged.

Nor did she suffer only from the weight of the stocks, but often felt
that she must starve for want of food, and her mouth parched and tongue
swelled, for by reason of the wide board she could neither feed herself
nor raise water to her lips, though a crystal stream sparkled and flowed
at her feet, where she would often stand and look until she fell faint,
and almost envied the little birds that came and drank, then perched
upon the plank at her neck and sang songs to her and hopped about with
glee. The sun shone hot or the storm beat hard upon her; the flies and
gnats pestered her, and often when she could no longer resist sleep the
rats and vermin climbed upon the wide board, and she would take fright
and arouse to prevent their gnawing at her face. And once, while
exhausted with hunger and faint with thirst, Nehachibana came up to her
and mocked her and gave her red peppers to eat and threw water at her
feet, then ran away.

All this Kinsan suffered until about to despair, when a little friend
came to her,--it was the daughter of Mrs. Lindley the missionary,--after
which she had regular food and drink, and felt thankful, though it was
scant and strangely prepared. The jeers of the children did not provoke
her and she bore all the cruelties without a protest; and at night the
doleful sound of the massagist's whistle kept her company--stealing
along the streets, plying his blind, nocturnal trade. And then she would
sleep and dream of the cave up yonder on the hillside not far away and
of the days when she gave her heart in truth and builded her faith upon
hope alone.



                              CHAPTER XXXV

                         MOBILISING THE SAMURAI


Daikomitsu took pains to see for himself that Tetsutaisho had kept his
word with reference to Kinsan's punishment, then without further
attention devoted himself to the arduous duties rapidly crowding around
him. He felt that Takara's secret rested safe for the present, therefore
did not worry much about her, although the knowledge of her failure had
been a severe blow to him. There were other things needing his attention
more than a private affair, and as he had never been an extremely ardent
lover it did not entail any great sacrifice on his part to put thoughts
of Takara aside and busy himself with matters more urgent.

Rumours coming in daily from the south made it more and more apparent
that sooner or later a determined resistance would be offered to the
mandates of the shogun, no matter who the incumbent or what the purport
of their recent letter might be. Yet the shogunate had in no wise
prepared to meet it, and the delay hoped for as a result of the frank
and unequivocal resignation of Hitotsubashi was much needed by
Daikomitsu and Okotsuba in making a last heroic effort to gather and
utilise the fragments of their strength. Tetsutaisho took no active part
in these endeavours, neither did he offer any strong resistance or
disencouragement; nor was his failure at that time so much felt. He was
a fighter, not an organiser; still his actions had a bad influence upon
the samurai (which constituted the shogun's army), as it also
embarrassed the remaining members of the triumvirate in the use of a
free hand and undisturbed purpose. The feeling of uncertainty arising
from his indifference caused more hindrance than any other, and
Daikomitsu grew puzzled to know just what Tetsutaisho would do when it
came to the final test.

Both Daikomitsu and Okotsuba knew very well that the
commander-in-chief's influence with the army rose above that of any
other man, and that without his leadership the samurai would be hard to
hold intact. Yet they could not think of surrendering entirely to his
careless if not boastful ideas, so they undertook to make their
preparation for war harmonise with his notions, in so far as it became
necessary in order to hold his support.

The letter containing the resignation, upon its arrival at Kyoto, so
surprised the leaders of the southern combination that they forthwith
began the reorganisation of the government upon the lines laid down at a
previous assembly of the daimyos. They felt that the first step toward a
complete rehabilitation had been successfully effected, though not
entirely secured without having gained the sole and unqualified
possession of the person of the mikado. It had been a universal custom
for the shogun to keep a body of samurai posted at the gate of the Kyoto
palace as a safeguard to the security of the mikado, and now that the
combination looked upon the latter as their sole supreme ruler they no
longer deemed it safe or desirable to intrust in any measure his
protection to a guard of the enemy, nor to allow them access to the
palace.

Hence on the third of January Saigo seized the gates and dismissed the
detachment of samurai there stationed, while the council issued in the
name of the mikado, an edict abolishing the office of shogun, forbidding
the bakufu entrance to the palace enclosure, and warning all against
interfering in any way with the royal court or council.

It came as an unexpected blow to the shogun and his advisers, thoroughly
convincing them that, contrary to their expectations, Hitotsubashi's
resignation had been promptly accepted and positively acted upon. It
also disabused the minds of the triumvirate of any hope of their being
recognised by the combination at Kyoto, and Daikomitsu was forced to
acknowlege that Hitotsubashi's resignation had been considered the act
of the shogunate: that he as well as the adherents of the Tokyo court
would be compelled to defend with arms their time-honoured institution.
The last hope of conciliation had been swept away, and Daikomitsu, if
not his associates, realised that it had come to a battle to the death,
not for the expulsion of the foreigner, but for the very life of the
shogunate itself.

Immediately upon the mikadate's closing of the gates at Kyoto and
declaring the shogunate at an end, the princes Owara and Kii had been
despatched to the shogun with a request that he come to Kyoto, join the
new government, and receive suitable recognition and position
thereunder. The shogun was weak and unable to decide; he hesitated and
wavered between two counsels, for there now developed a test of strength
between Daikomitsu and Tetsutaisho.

As usual, however, it again fell to the lot of the army to determine.
Whatever may have been Daikomitsu's reasons--whether a recognition of
the inevitable or a desire to obtain the best terms possible, or whether
to rid themselves of the cumbersome Hitotsubashi--he continued to urge
the shogun to comply with the mikado's request and go forthwith,
peaceably and unattended by military display, and submit himself and his
friends to the reasonable disposition of the Kyoto court. Okotsuba, in
command of all the shogun's navy, gave his hearty support to
Daikomitsu's proposals, and Hitotsubashi reluctantly consented,
forthwith communicating his intention to the mikado's envoy, sending
back to Kyoto his best respects and hearty assurances.

Hitotsubashi had not gone though, nor was he to do so until
Tetsutaisho's recommendations had wrought their influence. This proud
samurai had not been so easily convinced of the wisdom of Daikomitsu's
policy, and now that he had come to questioning the latter's motives he
began quietly to break faith with the triumvirate and to approach the
vacillating shogun directly, urging secretly a counter plan--one more to
his own liking and carrying with it a greater enthusiasm. He argued:

"Would you give this splendid army, the fleet, their arms and
equipments, into the hands of a weaker force? Sacrifice all these, the
building of centuries, at the first cry of danger? Surrender your
birthright and defame the gods? They tell you they are your friends, but
I believe them to be foes. They say they are strong, yet I know they are
weak. They cry the samurai are for peace, though I grant they are for
war. Then why not let this talk of peace be crowned with war? I say,
marshall the hosts of Shishi-Fukinjin, and enter the gates of Kyoto with
a force that will sound the warning of Raiden and spread the havoc of
Hoorie."

"Can you convince me of the samurai?" asked Hitotsubashi, with growing
enthusiasm.

"You have only to make the call," answered the roused-up commander.

"To-morrow I will hear them at the palace gate, and if Tetsutaisho be
vindicated then Hitotsubashi shall turn his face toward Bishamon and
hearken to the voice of Ojin. Let it be as it may, and go hence now,
that you fail not then, for the hour is to be nine; then the march shall
begin."

"I serve you, my most honourable shogun and august ruler."

Tetsutaisho made short his audience, and went away with a light heart
and glowing purpose. He had met with his first victory, and now almost
regretted having ever listened to the counsels of Daikomitsu or having
pledged himself to any other or further understanding than the valiant
defence of his shogun. All this happened on a clear, bright morning
while the air was crisp and frosty. The sun had barely risen, and
Tetsutaisho's drill served him well in getting the attention of the
shogun long before the brainy prime minister had thought of quitting his
needed slumbers. Leaving the shogun Tetsutaisho hastened along with
vigorous step and rising purpose to army headquarters, and there gave
the command that was to send a thrill to the heart of every loyal
Japanese--whatever banner, the shogun's or the mikado's, might be the
emblem of his fortunes. To his subordinates he said:

"You will mobilise and report at the inner palace gate to-morrow not
later than nine o'clock in the morning."

No intimation was given of what he expected--they knew their commander
had spoken and that if any should be delinquent it would be they and not
he. Tetsutaisho gave himself no further concern, but on the following
day took his place at the gate promptly on time, as did also
Hitotsubashi, Okotsuba, and strangely enough, Daikomitsu.

Nor were the samurai late in coming, for discipline had been their
life's teaching and they knew no such thing as failure. They lined up,
the left and right divisions in double rank on either side of the
roadway, their front resting on the inner gate and their rear stretching
through the outer gate afar into the city beyond. The soft, light
uniforms of the swordsmen wound round their waists and fell on one side
well down toward the ground. At the other side hung their black sheaths
and polished hilts, while their bared arms and quick eyes told of their
great skill at the business of war. The spearsmen with their brown
breasts and short skirts, resting lightly upon their spear handles,
lined up at the rear on either side, their spear points glistening away
and beyond the reach of human eyes. These were men of muscle, and their
bared limbs bespoke a wonderful endurance.

All together, Tetsutaisho might be proud and Hitotsubashi enthused with
the splendid army of their valorous defenders. The sun peeped out from
behind a passing cloud, and its rays dazzled and reflected from a
hundred thousand bright sides as the long lines broke and faced about in
double file and their commander stepped forward to greet them. Bowing
low to his shogun he arose and leaned forward from the battlement. He
spoke in a clear, ringing voice, his words being echoed and handed on
from man to man, squad to squad, and host to host to the last one in
line:

"Comrades and samurai: Our shogun has been assailed, and your
commander's honour is at stake. Do you follow me?"

The answer came thundering back:

"Until death!"

There was not a dissenting voice, and even Daikomitsu marvelled at their
unison of purpose and offered not a breath of protest. The shogun
mounted his war chair, and Tetsutaisho marched out at the head of the
heart and flower of feudalistic Japan. The war god had whispered sweetly
the glories of victory, and Hitotsubashi had listened. He drank of the
poisoned waters, and became drunk with desire. He had again changed his
mind, and Daikomitsu's counsel was of no avail; he must go, and his
friends suffer the consequences of his folly.

They marched out of the city and on toward the enemy, nothing of
importance interrupting their progress until they had reached Fushima,
not far distant from Kyoto. Here the gates were closed against them, and
Tetsutaisho met face to face his older rival, Shibusawa.



                             CHAPTER XXXVI

                           BATTLE OF FUSHIMA


Shibusawa, the young daimyo, was there with a goodly share of the forces
of Kanazawa intrenched behind formidable walls, and the voice of the
cannon warned Tetsutaisho of the former's determination to stand, even
at the cost of defeat.

When the mikado's envoy returned with Hitotsubashi's promise all Kyoto
had gone wild. Every preparation had been made for his gala entrance
into the capital and for his welcome at the mikado's palace. A million
yens had been set aside to defray the cost and Saigo sent into the south
to marshall a force wherewithal to meet the shogun's coming in the
height of gorgeous display. The day had been fixed upon for
Hitotsubashi's friendly arrival, and no thought of war entered their
minds.

Thus they found themselves relaxed and unprepared upon receipt of
advance news that the shogun hastily approached with a powerful army
under the command of the invincible Tetsutaisho, and in consequence
their very existence seemed threatened. There was no time now to reach
Saigo; he had gone far away into the southland. The force left in front
of the gates at Kyoto formed scarcely a bodyguard, and at last the
combination had been brought face to face with the perils of active
warfare.

Yet there appeared an alternative, and it was Takara who advanced its
proposal. The council had met in closed session, and had now become no
less than a storm of indecision. Shibusawa chanced to be absent, and
Kido, alone and unsupported, was unable to quell the tumult in a
disorganised and frantic chamber. Amidst this frenzy the doors opened
and the mikado's daughter entered. A hush came over them, for never
before had a woman dared enter there. It had been the business of men,
and since the days of Jingo their council remained barred to the
presence of women. They ceased quarrelling and stared intently. She
hastened forward, first addressing Kido, then the assembly:

"Honourable chairman, and men of the council, hold your tongues! There
is need of a better work."

Not a voice was raised against her; she had gained their attention.
Kido, only, ventured to speak, asking her to proceed.

"Would you sit here inert, while the enemy beat down your doors? Falter
in the hour of need? Ignore the help that is within reach?"

"No, no, no!" came from everywhere around her.

"Then I implore you to act," said she, resolutely.

"But who is there? Where is our defence?" said a voice in front.

"Shibusawa!"

A stillness came over them. They had not thought of him--their minds did
not go beyond their own little sphere. Possibly Kido had thought as
deeply, but the time had not come for him to speak. Takara had now
robbed him of the privilege, and every man there shouted himself hoarse
with applause. It was thenceforth Shibusawa who could and would save
them; drafting a formal request Takara in the absence of a dissenting
voice was chosen the trusted messenger.

She lost no time in reaching Shibusawa, nor he in accepting the
responsibilities; and while it may have taken him longer than
Tetsutaisho to mobilise his forces the distance was short and, once on
the ground, his defences were more quickly intrenched. True, his force
at hand numbered less than one to every ten of the antagonists', but
they were trained to the use of a more deadly weapon. Shibusawa had
learned while abroad of the utility of powder and shot, and from the day
of his accession had drilled his men in the use of modern arms. He had
thrown away the sword and spear, substituting the rifle and bayonet.
Close-fitting breeches replaced the loose and cumbersome garments of the
soldiery, and his men had been recruited from the masses. They were well
fed and enthusiastic, while their steady nerves and acute sight enabled
them to fire rapidly and accurately. Nor had he equipped solely with
infantry, but laid in a supply of light artillery--the best of modern
make--and this, as he soon discovered, stood him well in hand.

Upon his arrival at Kyoto, Shibusawa learned from news conveyed by
runners that owing to Tetsutaisho's rapid approach he did not have time
to move his army as far as Osaka, the intended place of resistance;
therefore he selected Fushima, a walled suburb of the capital proper, as
being the most available place to make a stand and throw up temporary
defences.

Here he took possession of the outer gates, through which the enemy must
pass on their march along the Tokaido[22] toward the palace in the city
above. Seizing upon a long, sloping hillside that lay just inside the
great gate, Shibusawa scattered his infantry throughout its length from
the wall below to the hilltop at the bend above; placing them in hollow
squares the better to pick and fell the advancing swordsmen as they
clambered upon the walls, or to fire upon the straggling spearsmen who
chanced to escape the artillery and gain the gates. The artillery had
been intrenched also on the hillside, sweeping at a convenient range
either the gate or the Tokaido; still a small reserve was held behind
all, out of sight and within easy reach.

All in all Shibusawa could have found no more advantageous place to pit
a modern army against a large force of samurai. Both he and his men
realised his superior position, and it gave them confidence in their
ability to cope with Tetsutaisho's overwhelming numbers. They had no
time to wait, though they were fully prepared when the charge began.

The infantry stood hidden behind the great wall which crossed the
samurai's line of march, and the artillery lay low behind their own
breastworks. Only Shibusawa and his small staff stood in the open
above--they were in no danger--and with field-glass and time-piece
carefully watched and noted the last proud march of the heart and soul
of feudal Japan. He could not help admiring them; and a feeling of
sadness crept over him as he measured their helpless destruction.

Yet he stood there, and on they came. Shibusawa gave the command, and
the roar and boom of the cannon warned the mighty shogun to halt his
march. Again and again the destructive thing belched its angry fire in
the face of an unfaltering foe: they came on, and Tetsutaisho's voice
rang out on the still cool air of morning:

"Down with the gates; on with the march!"

The blunt sound of the battering ram bespoke the hopeless force which
lingered in their hands. The proud commander, with giant stride and
thundering voice, ran down the lines, urging the last onward rush of a
hitherto victorious host. The samurai broke file and quickly ranked in
line after; Tetsutaisho had presaged the havoc awaiting a close
formation, and scattering his men sought to scale the walls as well as
batter down the gates.

Within the huge walls all was silence; after the first notes of warning
had been sounded Shibusawa ceased firing, and did not again give the
order until the gates had been driven loose and begun to fall. Then a
hundred guns poured shot and shell into the face of the onrushing
spearsmen, and the carnage wrought at that gate was frightful. The dead
piled high in the roadway, though again and again dragged from the path
of the undaunted oncomers. Nor were the swordsmen less valiant, for
everywhere they scaled the ramparts and rushed upon the infantry. Thus
before long, Shibusawa had called out his last reserve, and more feebly
repulsed the terrible onsets that came swifter and faster. Column after
column of his advance had been wiped out, and one position after another
yielded to the enraged enemy; yet his rear lines and the artillery kept
up an incessant fire. Tetsutaisho's men fell thick and fast about the
gate and around the walls; the defender's fire was deadly, and the cost
of each advance appalling.

Thus the battle raged and as yet neither had gained a victory. The ranks
on the mikado's side were thinning, and Shibusawa could not determine
the reserve strength of the enemy. The shogun's advance had become
maddened at the sight of such havoc, while the rear grew eager with
expectation. Everywhere they scaled the walls, and a constant stream,
though thinned and scarred, now poured through the battered gates.
Tetsutaisho shouted a last advance, and the valley below swarmed with
his mighty reserve. They did not halt, nor did they rush; but came
determined and invincible.

Shibusawa groaned as the tremendous odds revealed themselves. He looked
at his scattering few, then concentrated them, and cheered them for a
last heroic stand. He had withstood a terrific advance, and now would
resist a final onslaught, even to the last man. They were there to
fight, and did not know the meaning of surrender; nor would they deign
to retreat.

The solid columns advanced upon them,--shot and shell could not check
those swarming veterans,--and the walls no longer offered much
resistance. Tetsutaisho rushed forward; Shibusawa grasped his sword
hilt; his men redoubled the fire and hurried into line. The crack of the
rifle, the roar of the cannon, mingled to make the scene a cruel,
sickening slaughter. Shibusawa's little fragment seemed doomed, and he
pressed forward to sacrifice himself on the altar of courage. Then a
hand stretched forth from out the mists to save him; a shell burst and
Tetsutaisho fell wounded in the distance.

The fallen hero, however, was quickly snatched up and carried to the
rear, while the fight waxed hotter, and no sign of disorder appeared.
Yet there was one who sat outside the gate, well shielded behind the
walls; he felt sick with the sights everywhere greeting him, and as the
stricken commander was carried into his presence he weakened and again
changed his mind: when the victory rested within his grasp Hitotsubashi
gave the order to retreat, and the remnant of Tetsutaisho's splendid
army ran pell-mell toward the place whence they came.

Nor did the hesitating shogun stop his flight until he had again reached
Tokyo and securely locked himself within the gates at the palace.
Shibusawa had been too much surprised and his force too greatly weakened
to cut off the enemy's retreat or follow up his own victory; a few
straggling remnants were driven beyond the gory walls and begrimed
gates, and there the successful commander halted, content.

For the first time in the history of their country the power of the
machine over the individual had been fairly tried and fully
demonstrated. A vastly greater force of valiant men had been held in
check for hours by the quick and accurate firing of a few painless,
heartless, soulless guns; though at a frightful cost and the most heroic
trial they had ever known.



                             CHAPTER XXXVII

                           THE TRIUMPHAL ARCH


After the battle Shibusawa remained at Fushima until the dead were
buried, the wounded cared for, and the enemy had gone well out of the
country. Then, after directing some further defences, upon plans
suggested during the engagement, he busied himself with making
preparations for the return march; which, however, did not begin until
Saigo had arrived with a relief force.

Receiving the congratulations of the veteran commander, and bidding each
other good-bye, Shibusawa withdrew and began the march back along the
Tokaido toward the gates of Kyoto. His small army had been sadly
reduced, but they came proudly, as the heroes of a victorious struggle;
and when they had arrived they met with a scene which they had not
expected. The decorations and festivities intended for the shogun had
been put to quite another use; the crown of welcome had been turned into
an arch of triumph, and the victorious general passed under, the hero of
the hour. Nor was that all; for upon reaching the gates he there met
face to face the mikado himself. Such a thing had never been known, and
for the first time in the history of the nation their divine sovereign,
on the 7th day of February, had appeared in public.

Shibusawa, mindful of time-honoured custom, prostrated himself at the
mikado's feet, and there received a blessing and his own promotion.
Mutsuhito spoke in a clear and kindly voice, saying:

"I declare myself, Mutsuhito, the sole ruler of this land; and I appoint
you, Shibusawa, the commander-in-chief of all the forces in the nation's
service; and I promise the constitution at the fall of Tokyo."

Thereupon he handed to Shibusawa a roll bearing the inscription of a
letter, embodying the foregoing and the written signature of the mikado,
the first to appear in public. After this there were presented to the
newly made commander-in-chief the emblems of his office, consisting of a
brocaded banner and the sword of justice. These he accepted at the hands
of Kido, whereupon the mikado retired and Shibusawa proceeded to the
discharge of his duties.

The public appearance of the mikado and the announcement of his
patriotic intentions, though sudden and unexpected, had not been made
without careful deliberation and a full consciousness of its ultimate
effect. Mutsuhito, fully advised of the situation, had pledged his whole
heart, hand, and life for the good of his country. From the time of his
accession to the throne he had been a keen observer, and now that the
greatest clash of arms since the destruction of the Chinese armada, six
hundred years before, had resulted in a complete victory for their side,
he understood the patriotic outburst of approval that centred around
Shibusawa, the supporter of his cause; and he proposed to strike, like
the man that he was, where he knew the blow would tell most for what he,
too, believed to be right.

Shibusawa had not anticipated such applause nor had he expected so great
a recognition; he had gone forth at the first opportunity to do only
what he believed to be an honour and a privilege. He had acted as his
heart told him to act, and the results seemed but the incidents of
fortune. He accepted the responsibility with dignity and no further
ambition than to serve his country and honour the name his fathers gave.

Nor was he unmindful of the part Takara had played in moulding his
purpose and building his fortune, even to winning the crown of success.
Yet he could not return her that love which completes life and makes it
worth the living; he had given it to another and it was not his to
recall. He set himself to work at a lighter task, and presently the
force of his great ability made itself felt in the complete
reorganisation and equipment of the grandest army that had ever marched
or fought in the flowery kingdom of Japan.



                            CHAPTER XXXVIII

                           SAVING THE ARMADA


The news of the victory had spread rapidly, and by the time Shibusawa
reached Kyoto the whole south was in a state of unrestrained enthusiasm.
From the first days of the shogunate, the south had never at any time
yielded complete submission. They had always believed in the divine
right of the mikado, and still cherished the hope of his complete
restoration. They had fought many battles before, but somehow this one
sounded a deeper note. A new leader had risen, and they rallied to his
support with a better heart and bolder purpose.

While the force of the great success had been thus encouraging in the
south it worked a radically different effect in the north. The news had
travelled faster than the terrified shogun, and long before he reached
Tokyo they had heard of Tetsutaisho's misfortune and of the crushing
defeat Hitotsubashi had suffered to befall the brave samurai.

On the return march he was openly jeered, and nowhere did the retreat
meet with even respectful consideration. Everywhere throughout the north
the people bowed down with sorrow; but in their hearts there arose a
feeling of contempt for the halting, fleeing shogun.

"Had Tetsutaisho but escaped disablement!" became the suppressed cry on
every hand.

Hitotsubashi re-entered his palace a broken-hearted man, and there shut
himself in, a prisoner and a failure. It wanted only the bidding of the
first comer to startle and frighten him into a weak and puerile
submission: he waited and the time quickly came.

In the readjustment of the army, Shibusawa not only took advantage of
the strong public sentiment greatly to augment and newly equip the force
at hand, but introduced an entirely new system of arrangement and
discipline. He made of the army three great divisions: the Central or
Home division, over which he himself retained the immediate command; the
Right or South division, the command of which he intrusted to Saigo; the
Left or North division, which, strange to say, Tetsutaisho, his most
bitter enemy, was named to command.

Shibusawa alone was responsible for the arrangement, which, not at first
entirely understood, soon became generally known and proved most
effective in its workings. Without in any manner weakening his effective
forces he had placed his strongest enemy in the light of a rebel--than
which there is none more odious in the eyes of his countrymen--and
rather than bear the stigma of being so called many withdrew their
support from the shogunate or came over entirely to the side of the
mikadate.

While these sweeping changes were in progress, an expedition was also
being planned that should carry the seat of warfare far to the
northward, and even to the very door of the shogun's palace itself. Such
a thing had never before been thought possible, and now, when the most
unheard of changes were the regular order, it was looked upon with
wonder. Still the people, though amazed, had confidence in Shibusawa,
who carried on his work with a full understanding of its probable effect
at home, as well as its possibilities in the north. Nor was he
unappreciative of the advisability of following up his first victory
while its consequences were yet fresh in the minds of all. Hastening his
movements as much as seemed consistent with good judgment, he began
mobilising a vast army near the seashore at Owara, and there
rendezvoused all the ships at his disposal or that he could buy or build
in the meantime.

So rapidly did Shibusawa move that by the middle of April he held in
readiness a fleet of two thousand craft of all sorts and an army fully
one-half the size of that which Tetsutaisho had three months before
marched against them. Thereupon he notified Tokyo that the mikado had
proclaimed the shogun a rebel, demanding his immediate surrender; also
advised Tetsutaisho that if he longer refused to submit to orders from
Kyoto he did so at his peril.

The young commander did not wait for an answer, but set the day upon
which to sail. When the time came he bid all on land a hearty good-bye,
and under the promise of warm skies and a calm sea spread canvas; and
the southern armada sailed away, toward its heroic mission and enlarged
purpose.

Shibusawa's ship had been the last to leave its moorings, and as it
slowly backed off a shout went up from the throngs who crowded the
shore, bringing the young hero on deck where he bade them all farewell.
Blushing maidens waved their handkerchiefs, while young men shouted
themselves hoarse. Old men bowed, and white-haired women prophesied.
Some moaned a murmuring fear, for they had heard the voice of Kammon and
seen visions of the mighty dragon of the sea. Nor were those on board
the ships afterwards less apprehensive, for the warm skies of the early
morning had changed to sultry, murky heat. At midday the sun barely
showed its great, fiery face, and when it had sunk toward the western
horizon the winds ceased and the spangled fleet lay still on the glassy
waters or lolled on the lazy, deep rolling seas.

Thus they drifted and wandered far out on the blue expanse, like tiny
specks on the line betwixt heaven and earth, while their thoughts roamed
tauntingly through weird vagaries of legionary mysticism. Then suddenly
the heavens darkened, the winds blew, and the seas angered.

Even Shibusawa became not without a reverence for the ancestral gods.
The cracking of the timbers, the cries of the drowning, the fear of
destruction, these had certainly been enough to inspire feelings of
respect if not reverence for that which had once been all and all to
him. He came upon deck and there witnessed the power of religion over
men. His oldest veterans, tried and found true on many a battle-field,
were there lying prostrate before their chosen gods. He too may have
reverenced Bishamon, for he knelt and remained silent in the momentary
calm.

And as he there bowed a woman arose from the hatchway before him. He
started, and for the nonce lost his reason, appealing to Kwannon to save
them. His whole soul had returned at the call of the source whence it
came; the body gave what the mind failed. He felt her presence, and all
the reason of all the enlightened ages could not have shown him that
Takara had not invoked their calamity; for had not the sages of all time
said that the presence of a woman on board a man-of-war would bring upon
it the wrath of Oni? And was it not said there could be no escaping his
fury? These early accounted truths overwhelmed Shibusawa, and for the
moment he crouched in startled submission. The hobgoblins of his youth
had at last become a stern reality, for there stood before him his own
wife in the flesh and form. He would have risen and appealed to her, but
she checked him; and coming near, beckoned him be silent, then said:

"You would believe me a witch, some demon who has risen from the deep to
do you harm. It is not true; I came to save you."

Then she drew from her sleeve a blood-stained handkerchief, which she
bade him take from her hand. Impulse moved him to do so, and as he
touched the crumpled cloth his own consciousness discerned the awful
message therein revealed. He held it and listened, half bewildered, half
determined. She continued, saying:

"Take it, and promise me that you will avenge the wrong, that you will
sacrifice your own for your father's blood?"

He started, then hesitated; and looking all around, asked:

"The storm?"

She answered:

"Do you promise?"

He said:

"I do."

Then the storm broke afresh upon them; her face brightened, and she
leaped over the side of the ship and into the angry sea; and as she sank
beneath the foam-tossed waves she smiled sweetly, and he felt and knew
her message to be a token of peace.

As she disappeared from sight Shibusawa rushed to the ship's rail, and
calling loudly to those about him threw off his garment and would have
leaped after her had they not seized hold and implored him not to let
them die while he saved only a woman. He threw them from him and turned
to make the leap; but instead started back and stared in front, for
there arose before him out of the waters a vision of beauty, a goddess
of truth.

Her beautiful form seemed wound round with a mist, and her upturned face
looked toward the heavens. The storm ceased and the waters calmed. The
dark clouds parted and a sunburst shone through, enshrouding her; she
soared upward, disappearing within the sun's circle; the clouds closed
after her, and she was seen no more; Shibusawa alone knew the haven of
her rest.

Thence they sailed away toward Hakone, the intended port of landing. The
typhoon which had passed them did no great damage to the fleet--only
destroying some of the smaller craft and a few thousand men--and the
repairs were soon made, while they progressed without further
interruption.

After the weather had settled and they were again under full sail
Shibusawa retired to his cabin, and there pondered deeply the strange
scene he had witnessed. He knew that he had always acted in accordance
with the dictates of his own conscience, and felt that he could not hold
himself accountable for the sad misfortunes of fate. Yet he remained
conscious of Takara's new love, and, after having again brushed aside
all trace of returning mysticism, felt a deep sorrow overspreading his
life.

She, too, had passed through this same consciousness, and had grown to
love Shibusawa better than he knew; and when the time had come for him
to set sail a great fear had taken hold of her, and she could not bear
to see him go beyond her reach. She had reasoned well that his duty
called him hence and that at his post there was no place for a woman.
Yet she longed to be near him, to share his sorrows and comfort his
distress.

All this Takara felt in her heart, though she knew that he could not
return her love; that another held in secret the trust which God had
given, and that she herself at best must be but a slave. As such, she
stole on board his ship and hid herself away. The storm came upon them,
and she too may have fallen at the shrine of Mystery, listened to the
sweet voice of Tradition. And she reasoned that if the one be true, the
other must suffice; that if her presence had disturbed the gods, her
sacrifice must appease their wrath. Hence she sought her god, and
intrusted to him the keeping of her sworn duty. He accepted the
obligation, and she answered to the will of her Maker. It is asked:

"Is the beautiful goddess of truth a certain star? Is Takara in heaven?"



                             CHAPTER XXXIX

                              THE BIVOUAC


The armada arrived at Hakone early in the morning, and the myriad sails
stretched for miles along the low, sand-skirted beach, while the eager
men plunged and waded to the shore. The waters lay calm--scarcely a
ripple stirring their glassy surface--and long before midnight the
soldiers had bivouacked upon the sloping banks far up toward the
surrounding hills. They slumbered, and only the slow tramp of the
sentinel told of the visitation there encamped.

Shibusawa alone lingered; he could not sleep. A new responsibility had
taken hold of him, and his mind wandered into the mystic land of
infinitude. At his back lay the majestic Fujiyama, whose silent cone and
sloping sides seemed encircled with a thousand magic tales, and whose
lofty peak had inspired with awe the millions born of departed ages;
while before him spread the plains of Sagami, studded with its historic
legend, sacred temples, mammoth statues, palaces of the kings, and caves
of the gods.

The restless man thought of all these, and of how he had rambled amidst
its historic fields; climbed up and into the very heart and head of the
great Buddha, with its eyes of gold and tons of bronze, measuring fifty
feet in height and seventeen across from ear to ear; stolen on the
rock-hewn steps around the jagged cliffs at Enoshima, where juts the
rock and beats the surf, to the cave, in which dwells the lovely goddess
Benten; pilgrimaged to the lofty golden-lacquered statue of Kwannon, the
beautiful image, over sixty feet in height, of the time-honoured goddess
of mercy, recalling that he, too, had stood at her feet, in the darkened
chamber, behind the shrine, bowing with reverence, while the priests in
their sombre gowns repeated holy incantations: that he had admired the
beautiful handiwork of man as they raised and lowered the sliding
candles from foot to head on either side, and that he had gone away
again feeling better in heart and stronger of purpose--more fitted to do
his part in the mighty empire of life. These things crowded upon his
memory, and a whole world of beauty opened up as of the past and he
marvelled at its vastness and shuddered at the thought of its crumbling
before the march of progress. He asked himself if he were in the right
in hastening its downfall; if all those who had gone before, those
millions of tireless, worshipping souls, had lived in vain. Then a
broader conception dawned, and he answered:

"Yes."

He had looked beyond all this to the God who knows no image, who counts
within His fold all the suns and moons and stars and lands within a
world of worlds. He then slept, and upon arising despatched a message to
Kyoto with the news of Takara's death, and began the march toward Tokyo,
much refreshed and more confident of his mission. He had overcome the
last temptation to cling to the old, and pressed forward with a better
courage and lighter heart toward the new. He too had loved and lost,
though his God bade him have faith: Takara's did not.



                               CHAPTER XL

                             SIEGE OF TOKYO


A slow march of nearly three weeks brought Shibusawa and his great army
to the outskirts of the shogun's capital city, Tokyo; little resistance
having been offered on the way, and no considerable inconvenience
suffered.

The assaulting general had taken his time, partly because of the
difficulty experienced in moving artillery without a sufficient supply
of horses or cattle, but chiefly in view of expected hostilities and the
uncertainty of the country through which they passed. However, he was
agreeably disappointed in finding his passage practically uninterrupted,
and the inhabitants not extremely unfriendly. The news had gone far in
advance of his coming, and the very audacity of his movements had won
for him admiration if not respect.

Upon arriving at his destination, Shibusawa halted well outside the
city, seized upon the most advantageous points and fortified them with
artillery and troops, preparatory to the great siege which he had
planned.

In his investment of the place he took particular pains to make his
stand at some considerable distance from the densely built sections. He
had realised the danger of setting fire to the thatched roofs and wooden
structures, should any heavy engagement take place near them, and
however anxious he may have been to crush the shogunate he did not wish
to do so at the cost of a conflagration or the needless destruction of
life or property. He went at the business of conquering the foe with a
just and full appreciation of the rights and conveniences of the people;
and, upon extending his lines around the city, purposely left a weak
place to the northward, giving the enemy a chance to break through, if
he so desired, thus avoiding the necessity of fighting the final
engagement at or near the great capital, with its large population, its
splendid buildings, and vast stores of wealth.

In this Shibusawa reasoned well and, under existing conditions, lost
nothing in position or opportunity. While the loophole came to nothing
so far as the shogun himself was concerned, it did afterwards accomplish
good results by letting at least a portion of the samurai out, thus
avoiding a last stand or any large engagement within the city. Nor would
it have been any the less operative in the case of Hitotsubashi, had he
not weakened at the first appearance of danger and run like the weakling
he had shown himself to be. The scared shogun had long since withdrawn
from anything like a hostile attitude, hiding himself within the secret
confines of a bulwark builded by other hands than his.

In fact, upon the receipt of Shibusawa's letter, despatched from Owara,
advising him of the mikado's edict demanding his resignation,
Hitotsubashi fainted away and was revived only by means of much sorcery
and many assurances. Tetsutaisho had by this time fully
recovered--having suffered more from the concussion than from the
wound--and become anxious to retrieve his fallen prowess. Before his
disablement at Fushima he had presaged the inevitable outcome of the
battle, had he been spared to lead on to victory his overwhelming
numbers, and now keenly felt the disgrace rightly attributed to his
idolised shogun, who had so promptly and properly taken up the ill-fated
command. Therefore, urging Hitotsubashi to stand firm, he advised that
they all fall together like men, if fall they must.

"True, your most august highness, I advised war from the beginning,"
said he. "I do no less now. And when the last has deserted, Tetsutaisho
will stand face to face with the enemy. You have my judgment; I have the
army. Do as you will, but I shall defend these walls, which enclose the
last that is dear to a samurai. Loyalty is my due, and honour my right.
May the gods deal lightly with you; with me there is a more serious
issue: the shogunate must live!"

Though the commander-in-chief of the shogun's forces held positive in
his stand, and was now strongly supported by both Daikomitsu and
Okotsuba, and several other of the daimyos, he could no longer bolster
up and encourage the waning Hitotsubashi. On the contrary the latter
grew more cowardly and anxious, and long before Shibusawa had arrived,
he, together with some twenty daimyos and a large number of retainers
and hangers-on, withdrew from the walled palace, retiring to the castle
of Mito in everlasting disgrace. Their withdrawal necessarily weakened
the triumvirate, but it did still more: it again divided them in their
policy, and scattered them in their last defence.

Daikomitsu had in the first place advised Hitotsubashi to go to Kyoto in
compliance with the mikado's request, but he had never considered the
surrendering of the shogunate or the abandonment of its cause; and when
the shogun had so flagrantly disregarded his advice and marched against
Kyoto, he realised more than ever the necessity of ignoring him, and of
establishing a more harmonious relation among the triumvirate. This he
undertook to do, and had the shogun remained quietly in the palace at
Tokyo they might yet have succeeded in saving their idolised
institution.

Tetsutaisho not only was thus sorely tried with public duties and loss
of prestige, but had been overwhelmed with sorrow at home. He had there
met with new and bitter experiences and, in place of that consolation
and comfort which a man in any position can ill afford to forego, was
burdened with a deep and abiding grief.

Not until the night before the shogun's departure had Nehachibana
relented; then she came to her husband and in a confused manner
confessed that Kinsan had not taken the life of Sodachinojoi. She told
him of how the child of itself had slipped into the crevice; and without
making any excuse for her own falsehood or expressing sympathy for the
wronged one, she left him there, and the next day went out of the city,
following the train of the shogun into seclusion.

Nehachibana had become a convert to the new religion, and believing
herself a martyr now sought to relieve her conscience by a confession of
the facts; thus preparing herself to ask His forgiveness and receive
salvation. Tetsutaisho's wife had been an easy convert and ready worker
among her kind; it had been easy for her to become a Christian, offering
a ready road to happiness; her own religion was not so easily adjusted
or so well suited to like achievement. And while the missionary, Mrs.
Lindley, escaped along with the shogun's retinue, and took her convert
with her, she had done a great good in the years she had been at Tokyo;
for not only had she saved Nehachibana's soul, but her little daughter
had given much succour and some comfort to poor Kinsan while suffering
the cruel revenge of her fiendish tormentor.

Tetsutaisho's heart sickened upon hearing the confession; and hastening
to rectify the awful mistake, he found Kinsan suffering all but the last
pangs of starvation; for the attention even of the missionary's little
daughter had in the excitement of the hour failed her. The strong man
fell upon his knees at her side, and with his own hands broke the lock
which held the vile instrument at her neck. Gathering the frail form in
his arms he carried her to her former lodge, and there summoned the best
aid and nourishment at his command. Nor was he satisfied with this
alone, but would have condemned Nehachibana even to a severer punishment
had not Kinsan pleaded for her deliverance, saying feebly:

"She is but a woman; and no more accountable for her way than I am for
my misfortune. It is not the deed, but the necessity that makes the
wrong. In such an one there can be no crime--please do not inflict a
punishment."

Tetsutaisho yielded to Kinsan's persuasion, for he now understood her,
and appreciated the force of her intent, though not her logic. He
remained a child of feudalism, and outside its tenets was a suckling,
not knowing that there opened another way. To him woman seemed but an
instrument, the better used to gratify man's desire; and when he allowed
Nehachibana to escape it had been only to encourage an eager, selfish
hope.

Kinsan recovered rapidly; thus Tetsutaisho became relieved, and devoted
himself more than ever to the strengthening of his defences and the
preparations for a final combat. In his mind there was only one course
to pursue, and that the heroic. It mattered not that a city be
destroyed, that countless lives be sacrificed. He was as bold and
intrepid as he was loyal and courageous; knowing neither the power of
deception, nor the force of heartless mechanism. He marshalled not their
cowardly virtues, but called to hand an humbler host, the glorious
heroics of a dying age. He proposed to make a last triumphant stand, and
dazzle mankind with the splendour of his achievement; but in this, too,
he was doomed to disappointment.

Both Daikomitsu and Okotsuba reasoned patiently against the dangers of
his policy. They knew too well the futility of matching valour against
cunning, the human against the inhuman. They argued well that they had
best make good their escape, holding the enemy in check and preserving
their own forces until, in time, they could substitute a more effective
warfare. But Tetsutaisho remained resolute and when the final day came,
faced a hopeless attempt, realising only at the last moment the
inevitable consequence of his folly.

It was a dark, gloomy, and hopeless day. All the morning the rain had
poured, and the thatched roofs and wooden structures were soaked with
water. The time was July--the fourth day--and after the long rain a
rising vapour enveloped the city with a low, hazy fog. The clouds
overhead ran low, and Shibusawa ordered the advance. Twice before he had
planned to move upon them, but each time refrained from doing so at the
earnest appeal of Daikomitsu, who had sent messengers protesting against
the destruction of the city. This time there must be no halting; the
heavens had cleared the way.

Column after column of the mikado's splendid army, with fixed bayonet
and steady march, advanced from the south upon the walled enclosure at
the palace grounds. Hardly had they sounded the approach, the moats were
destroyed and the big cannon hurled their easy missiles against the
yielding gates and weakening walls. The waters emptied, and the stones
loosened and fell; they pressed on, some levelling, others scaling,
until the last obstruction had fallen--thus thrice proving the certainty
of the new and the futility of the old, as time and progress ever
repeat.

As the last wall fell Shibusawa brandished high his sword and commanded
the charge. Quickly they ran, and the hillside swarmed with oncoming
hordes of sturdy, determined men. Reaching the summit the broad expanse
of the shogun's gardens spread out before them, and they ranked in
double line, listening, with breathless expectation. And as they waited
the clouds parted, revealing a scattering enemy in the background; only
a small formation stood aligned in front of the palace buildings. Like a
flash came the order:

"Fire!"

A blaze, and the crack of musketry dulled against the heavy atmosphere.
The line fell to their knees and began reloading. The rear had risen,
and stood ready to repeat. The smoke rose, and a woman was seen running
toward them. She had gained the centre of the field, yet without heed of
her presence or time to observe an order a second volley poured its
deadly shot into the foreground. Shibusawa had seen her and cried:

"Cease your firing!"

But the warning had come too late, and turning to his troops he said:

"Would you so little respect the helpless, and that a woman? I thought
better of my command. Hold you here with compassion, and let me
advance."

Nor had he checked their progress unknowingly; for before the smoke
again shut out the view he had levelled his glasses at the approaching
form, and to his horror discovered that it was Kinsan who with the white
cloth in hand had reeled and fallen before the wicked report had time to
die away.

Shibusawa at the head of his staff sprang forward, and before the smoke
had again fairly cleared away came well-nigh upon the fallen woman who
lay in a swoon, though breathing lightly and not mortally wounded. But
not he alone had gone to her rescue, for Tetsutaisho also had observed
her danger, and from the opposite side ran to save her. At the beginning
of the engagement Kinsan and others had been carefully sheltered at the
rear, from which situation she overheard a heated discussion between
Tetsutaisho and Daikomitsu, resulting in the latter's withdrawal at the
last moment of the major portion of the samurai, leaving scarcely more
than Tetsutaisho's bodyguard with which to defend himself and the
palace. Fearing his fate, Kinsan had without bidding or warning evaded
them all, seeking to stay her master's destruction by throwing herself
in front. She knew that Tetsutaisho, reduced to a handful of patriots,
could not withstand the terrible onslaught of a mighty army, and offered
to sacrifice herself in the hope of saving him in some way from ruthless
destruction, if not ignominious defeat. Her heart had gone out to him
and to the few others who had remained steadfast to principle, and her
life seemed to her of slight importance as compared with theirs, or in
prolonging, even momentarily, the institution which had given them
place.

Tetsutaisho, too, had run out in advance of his guard, and coming up
felt relieved to know that Kinsan had not been fatally shot. Halting
near by, as did Shibusawa, the two met face to face, measuring the
inevitable.

Shibusawa, the conqueror, spoke first; it became not him to humble the
vanquished. Speaking kindly yet firmly, he said:

"What would you, Tetsutaisho?"

"I am a samurai, Shibusawa."

"You have answered well, Tetsutaisho, and Shibusawa is none the less a
man."

They drew their swords--Tetsutaisho, the one that Munechika had died in
the forging; Shibusawa, the Murakumo which had not once failed the
illustrious Maidos. The guards stood umpire in the background. The
clouds parted and the sun shone forth a pale red. Their steels rang with
the perfection of their making. Kinsan rose upon one arm and humbly
raised the other in silent deprecation. Then she turned her face and
sank back upon the cool, damp ground. The two giants did not heed her;
they were facing death, and the test already quickened.

    [Illustration: Their steels rang with the perfection of their
    making.]

They fought without an error. Twice the swarthy Tetsutaisho forced the
nimble Shibusawa to the ground, but each time a quicker eye and better
mind saved him the fall. They fought fiercely, and the blood-stained
grass told of their deliberate purpose. A calm settled around them; no
other sound could be heard. The mighty frame of the one pressed hard; a
frown crossed his face, and he parried heavily. Shibusawa's muscles set
and his eyes flashed. Then there came a clash and a thrust, and
Tetsutaisho fell prostrate, with a broken sword at his side.

Kinsan feebly turned toward them. Tetsutaisho partly rose, and beckoned
the victor approach. Shibusawa came near, and Kinsan faintly heard the
dying man's last words:

"She is innocent!"

Shibusawa bent over Kinsan and asked her forgiveness. She only smiled;
then he took her in his arms and carried her away. It was not far, but
chanced to be to the hidden cave, which lay behind the lines just below
the hill near by. There he called for relief and her wound was dressed.
When she looked about and saw the place she felt her great love, and
knew that his had been born anew.

After Shibusawa had been fully informed as to the nature of Kinsan's
wound he ordered the army held in check, and directed that she be
carried to his own castle just below the grounds, where Maido, his
father, had lived and served so long the power that he himself had now
overcome and forever destroyed. There he found the busy Shiyoganai still
in charge,--Okyo had disappeared,--and after providing Kinsan with every
comfort and the best skill at his command Shibusawa despatched a message
and escort for his sister Yasuko, who had remained behind at the castle
in Kanazawa, urging her to come quickly, so that she might relieve him
of the immediate care of Kinsan.

He had learned that her breast was pierced through

with a bullet, and that while the wound was not necessarily a dangerous
one it would be many months before she could be expected fully to
recover, even under the most favourable circumstances. He therefore
confined his further war-like operations to Tokyo and the immediate
vicinity, returning to her each day until his sister had arrived and
replaced him with a more useful, if not kinder attention. Nor was Yasuko
unhappy for the chance, but applied herself with a devotion that
disclaimed any thought of stoicism or even indifference. She expressed a
true type of the generations that had gone before her, and did not
falter nor shrink from her part; she loved her brother, and believed his
every wish worthy of her unquestioned attention.

And she not only nursed the sick one, but so devoted herself to the
house that when Shibusawa finally returned he found the old home
bubbling over with such joys as he had never before known.



                              CHAPTER XLI

                            THE RESTORATION


Shibusawa had no sooner provided for Kinsan's temporary comfort than he
hastened to resume his command. The halt in his progress had given
Daikomitsu time to withdraw the rebellious samurai in order and hastily
prepare a cover for his retreat.

After having induced the hesitating troops to abandon Tetsutaisho,
Daikomitsu had found himself necessarily pressed into their command. In
consequence he withdrew from the palace grounds, and taking a temporary
stand at Uyeno park undertook, with a small detachment, to check
Shibusawa's advance until, with the main body of the samurai, he had
fought his way through the enemy's line to the northward.

It had grown late in the day by the time Shibusawa had completed his
investment of the palace and resumed the advance. The lateness of the
hour proved greatly to Daikomitsu's advantage; so much so that when the
mikado's troops reached Uyeno they were unable to dislodge the enemy,
but met with such resistance as to check their advance until the
following morning. Each assault had been sharp but decisive, and every
attempt met with positive repulse. The loss of life was great and to the
surprise of both sides proved to be nearly equal.

Though the battle of Uyeno has ever been accounted a victory for the
mikadate, Daikomitsu had cleared the way, and under cover of night
marched through the enemy's lines toward Hakadata in the north. In the
meantime Okotsuba had withdrawn the rebel fleet and proceeded on his way
to the same place, where they again joined forces and later gained a
signal victory over Shibusawa and his modernised army, who had followed
hot in pursuit.

They were, however, soon doomed to entire defeat, and upon their final
surrender both Daikomitsu and Okotsuba were brought back to Tokyo, and
in consideration of their faithfulness and humanitarianism given
liberty. The doom of the shogunate had been sounded with the fall of
Tetsutaisho, and no power afterwards could have saved their final and
complete overthrow.

The news of the great victory of July 4th soon reached Kyoto, and the
mikado began making preparations to remove to Tokyo. Without needless
delay he started thither, and upon his arrival proclaimed himself
emperor of Japan, changed the capital city to Tokyo, and promulgated the
constitution as promised: Shibusawa had gained the liberty to marry whom
he chose, and he lost no time in so doing.

Upon his return from the north he was offered the highest place in the
gift of the emperor, but declining with the utmost respect, Shibusawa
chose to become a private citizen; the emperor excusing him only upon
his earnest personal request, trusting to his loyalty for the necessary
and proper readjustment. Accordingly, Shibusawa forthwith called a
meeting of all the daimyos, at which Kido was named mediator; a
memorandum being drafted and signed, without a dissenting voice, wherein
they declared their willingness to surrender to the new government their
titles, their fiefs, and their arms.

The emperor promptly accepted their resignations and promulgated what is
known as the Patriotic Act, whereby those who chose were retitled and
all reimbursed according to the value of their respective estates.

Shibusawa remained a loyal subject and settled at the capital city, in
the old castle under the hill which had for centuries been the home of
his ancestors and a pride to the once glorious but now departed court.
Here he gathered around him the loyal and the faithful. Others were
pensioned or rewarded, and none was dissatisfied. Kinsan had recovered,
and the quaint halls once more echoed to the sound of marriage bells.
There were a host to do him honour, and a world to keep them faithful,
while no sorrow of the past shadowed their future. The prattle of
children, the song of a mother, and the solicitude of a father graced
their home and cheered their lives, making the battle worth the victory.

They lived as they had hoped, a blessing came as the reward of their
faith, and whether in the social hall or before the footboards of the
great Donjero: though at toil in the world or at rest in the home, they
had found peace, the brightest jewel in the crown of life.



                                APPENDIX

    Nearly all Japanese words should be spoken without accent, or,
    rather, with a slight and equal accent upon each syllable. The
    pronunciation should begin with a perceptible force, which
    gradually softens to the last, through a quick succession of all
    the syllables.

=1=. =Nippon= (N[)i]p-p[vo]n). This was the Japanese name for Japan,
though foreigners had always confined or limited its use to the name of
the largest island, or mainland, of the Japanese archipelago.

To those who are familiar with things Japanese the sound of this name
carries a special significance, for in it are wrapped the origin and
growth of Japanese life, its religion, customs, traditions, and beliefs.

Their history covers an unbroken reign, the longest of any progressive
people now on earth, so far as we know, and their version of the
Creation contains a principle that is pre-eminently theirs; for
Shintoism knows only Japan. Their religion, like the Christian with
Christians, is co-extensive with their history; each beginning the
record, as do all others, at its separation from myth.

=2=. =Daimyo= (d[=i]-m[)i]-[=o]-). The highest official in a province
under the shogunate. By way of comparison, his position might be said to
have corresponded to that of governor of a state in America, though his
powers and duties were very dissimilar. The title originated under the
mikadate, but from necessity as well as policy the daimyos generally
became allied with the shogunate, hence in fact a part of it.

=3=. =Shogun= (sh[=o]-g[)u]n). The official head of the shogunate (one
of the dual sides, or heads, of the Japanese government) which was
established in the twelfth century, and lasted until abolished in 1868.

From the beginning of recorded Japan until the twelfth century the
mikado was the sole ruler, both spiritual and temporal, and during the
latter part of his reign, as such, the shogun existed, but only as an
inferior: the commander-in-chief of the mikado's armies. Thus intrenched
behind the military forces the shogun became enabled to enlarge his
powers, and finally forcibly made the office hereditary, and himself
secure in the material rule of the empire.

Satisfied with temporal supremacy the shogunate never attempted to
encroach upon the mikado's spiritual distinction, as ever held by the
people. Nor was it alone policy that so long prompted a continuance of
this dual form of government, but it was the ruling spirit quite as much
of the shogunate as of the people at large. This has been repeatedly
denied--in fact, it has been denied that there ever was actually two
heads of government--but the facts hardly justify any such conclusion.
Brushing aside all technicalities, a brilliant and polite administration
of upwards of a thousand years stands out in its dual capacity as
distinctly as do the two sister planets, and if that is not sufficient
to establish authenticity as such then man must be at a loss to
comprehend what constitutes the right of recognition.

There was, in fact, a dual form of government: the one head, the mikado,
spiritual; the other, the shogun, material--each in its sphere, as
related to a homogeneous whole. By a compromise these two were, in 1868,
merged into one--the empire--with a discontinuance of the shogunate, and
a continuance of the mikadate line of succession as the sole, reigning
emperor. (See No. 9, Mikado.)

=4=. =Kimono= (k[)i]-m[=o]-n[=o]). The outer, or principal garment worn
by the Japanese, both male and female.

=5=. =Harakiri= (há-rá-kâ-râ). An honourable method of committing
suicide under the shogunate. It was generally done under an official
decree of death, and performed by cutting or ripping open the belly with
a sharp knife or dirk.

=6=. =Koto= (k[=o]-t[=o]). A kind of harp, or stringed instrument used
in Japan, more for the production of classic music.

=7=. =Geisha= (g[=i]-sh[.a]). A professional singer or musician of the
female sex, who sings or plays for hire, at both private and public
functions.

=8=. =Etas= ([=e]t-[)a]s). The "unclean"; such as grave-diggers, etc.

=9=. =Mikado= (m[)u]-k[.a]-d[=o]). The official head of the Japanese,
both spiritual and temporal, from the beginning until the twelfth
century, when the shogun rose to power and seized the material functions
of government.

Thence a dual form ensued, the mikado remaining the spiritual and the
shogun the temporal ruler until 1868, when both were merged into the
empire, with the mikado's line reigning as emperor. The office of shogun
was then abolished. (See No. 3, Shogun.)

=10=. =Joro= (j[=o]-r[=o]). A woman who for hire submits herself to the
practice of sexual intercourse, in accordance with custom and law. When
done under stress of circumstances, such as the financial aid of a
distressed parent, it was deemed a virtue, and the participant, except
for the time being, did not lose caste, but when the contract time had
elapsed (usually three years) was received by her friends and the
community as a sort of martyr.

=11=. =Kakemono= (k[)a]-k[=e]-m[=o]-n[=o]). The predominant Japanese
picture used for decorating the walls of a house. It is usually painted,
or scrolled upon a long, narrow piece of silk or sheet of paper, and
mounted upon a roller. Its use is similar to that of the ordinary
European framed picture, and it was the means of expressing their
highest art in painting and writing.

=12=. =Kuge= (koo-g[)a]). A class, consisting of nobles and members of
the former mikado's court.

=13=. =Ronin= (r[=o]-n[)i]n). At first an organized band of disaffected
patriots, but afterwards a malcontented clan who held themselves in
readiness, for hire or otherwise, to commit some depredation upon
organised society, or its members. The Band of Forty-Seven have been
much written about in prose and poetry.

=14=. =Bakufu= (b[.a]-koo-foo). A class consisting of retainers and
members of the shogun's court.

=15=. =Samisen= (s[.a]-m[=i]-s[)e]n). A stringed musical instrument
resembling something between a banjo and a guitar. It is commonly used
by the geishas, and is popular with the lower classes.

=16=. =Kokyu= (k[=o]-ky-[=u]). A kind of musical instrument.

=17=. =Sayonara= (s[=i]-y[=o]-n[)a]-r[.a]). The Japanese for "good-bye."

=18=. =Koku= (k[=o]-koo). A unit of measure, whose degree of value
varied with time and locality.

=19=. =Hinin= (h[)i]-n[)i]n). The vile; such as slaughterers, beggars,
etc. At one time they were by law made social outcasts.

=20=. =Obi= ([=o]-b[)i]). A kind of sash, or girdle, worn about the
waist for convenience and ornament.

=21=. =Yamabushi= (yá-má-boo-sh[)i]). Mendicant monks.

=22=. =Tokaido= (T[=o]-k[=i]-d[=o]). The great military road, or
highway, between Tokyo and Kyoto.



                           Transcriber Notes:

Passages in italics were indicated by _underscores_.

Passages in bold were indicated by =equal signs=.

Small caps were replaced with ALL CAPS.

Throughout the document:
  an "a" with a dot was replaced with "[.a]",
  an "a" with a breve was replaced with "[)a]",
  an "e" with a breve was replaced with "[)e]",
  an "i" with a breve was replaced with "[)i]",
  an "o" with a breve was replaced with "[)o]",
  an "u" with a caron was replaced with "[vu]",
  an "a" with a macron was replaced with "[=a]",
  an "e" with a macron was replaced with "[=e]",
  an "i" with a macron was replaced with "[=i]",
  an "o" with a macron was replaced with "[=o]", and
  an "u" with a macron was replaced with "[=u]".

Throughout the dialogues, there were words used to mimic accents of the
speakers. Those words were retained as-is.

The illustrations have been moved so that they do not break up
paragraphs and so that they are next to the text they illustrate.

Errors in punctuations and inconsistent hyphenation were not corrected
unless otherwise noted.

On page 100, there was conflict between one instance of the name Katsu
and one instance of the name Kotsu, both referring to the same person.
Katsu Yoshikuni was a loyal retainer of the Tokugawa regime and served
in the navy. Therefore, Kotsu was replaced with Katsu.

On page 126, a period was added after "leaned back in silence.".

On page 160, a period was added after "to still the cares of men".





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