Mother Earth

Volume 3: The Caldron of Hell

Chapter 5: The Vengeful Ghost of Yuri

      The first generation of the Masagoro Deguchi family was a carpenter who established the branch family from the Kohei Deguchi family in 1716-36 (during the Kyoho era) and set up his own home in Tsubouchi Village, Ayabe-ggumi (currently Hongu-cho, Ayabe City), it is said. Since the, the Deguchi family had used to the name "Masagoro" from generation to generation.

      The Deguchi family had a grand mansion and large fields, but had no boy. And the Deguchi family adopted a child of the Tarobei family in Kaai Village (currently Okuyama, Ohara, Miwa-cho, Amada County, Kyoto Prefecture) as their son and made him suceed Masagoro by marrying Sayo, the daughter of the Deguchi family.

      The second generation of Deguchi was also a carpenter and worked hard to cooperate with Sayo and he increased the property of the Deguchi family. But, they had no child and adopted Yuri who was a daughter of the relative, Soemon Deguchi. In 1822 (Bunsei 5), Yuri was eighteeen years old.

      Yuri already had a fiance, Mosaku, who was a cousin and lived in Koumori (now Koumori, Oecho, Kasa Country, Kyoto Prefecture). Their engagement was decided by both family's parents, but was canceled after consultation. Masagoro wanted to marry Masahei, his nephew living in his parents' house, the Tarobei family. They were conveyed to each other and moreover, Mosaku became enthusiastic about another daughter. There was no problem canceling the engagement.

      Masahei married Yuri, but was soon taken seriously ill. After recovering his health, he easily became ill and rarely shared her bed. They had also suffered from having no baby. They consulted about adoption and picked on Nao, Yuri's niece. Nao's mother, Soyo Kirimura was the elder sister of Yuri.

      Masahei and Yuri visited the Kirimura family in Fukuchiyama and offered to adopt Nao as their daughter. At this time, Nao was only three or four years old. Soyo's husband, Gorozaburo, agreed with this adoption at once, making clear with an expression of interest in cutting down the family's expenses. But, her grandmother, Take, and mother, Soyo, offered opposition to the adoption. As the result, Masahei and Yuri could accept only answer that Nao would be adopted into their family if she was allowed to grow up a little.

      Masahei died on February 8, 1846 (Koka 3). Keeping the wake for late her husband, Yuri looked crushed with grief at her husband's death, her head bowed before Masahei's remains. Despite her sad look, she suffered from other things. Taking the opportunity offered by Masahei's death, his elder brother, Kihei, Gisuke Deguchi of the main family, Sahei Deguchi of the branch family and others attempted to seize the property of the Deguchi family. She felt firmly strict atmosphere around her.

      "I'll adopt Nao as my daughter and protect the estate of the Deguchi family," Yuri said.

      Nao had grown up a good girl according to Yuri's expectation. Nao worked diligently in the kitchen for the condolence callers and received them with warm hands. She had learned the manner through suffering in apprenticeship for a long time.

      "After all come back, I'll request Nao and my elder sister to allow my adoption. Maybe, I think that it is very difficult for them to deny my request before Masahei's remains."

      The moment she decided to do it, she suddenly noticed that a male modestly spoke to her, "Please...Yuri, I'm Mosaku. This, I am."

      The instant he told his name, she couldn't recollect him at once. Yuri hesitated to answer him being anxious about discourtesy to him.

      Yuri had had this man on her mind from the beginning of the wake.

      He said, "More than twenty years ago, this Mosaku lived in Koumori. Have you already forgotten me?" "Oh," Yuri cried, recollecting him. Since then she had met him last, twenty four years had passed.

      Mosaku said, "As I have been a poor peasant, I couldn't visit you to greet you. This time, I accepted the announcement of your husband's wake."

      While speaking to each other, the circumstance of Mosaku was similar to Yuri's. He had recently lost his wife and had no child. At the unexpected meeting again, Yuri was very interested in him, forgetting Nao's adoption.

      Since then, Mosaku offered good advice to Yuri. Mosaku introduced Kikuzo, sixteen years old, a son of Ohira in Mikata Village (now Mikata-cho, Ayabe City) for the adoption to Yuri. Yuri had a plan to make Kikuzo practice carpentry and marry Nao in the future. But, Kikuzo died at the age of twenty in 1850 (Kaei 3). The Deguchi family hadn't been blessed with children.

      Yuri soon adopted Toyosuke who lived in Nakasuji-Muraoka (now Nakasuji-cho, Ayabe City) as the adoption introduced by a neighbor, a carpenter, Fujiemon Tsujimura. As Toyosuke had been under articles to a carpenter in Isa Village (currently Ishihara, Fukuchiyama City), he came back to his boss at once. Yuri wanted Nao's adoption.

      After holding the Buddhist service for her late husband's passing forty nine days since his death, they were united. Yuri first experienced sexual joy. Mosaku wished hard for the appetites of her flesh because he had lost his wife and passed a long, lonely time. Yuri recognized the new face of a man lost. Yuri's flesh attained full growth, keeping separate from sexual relations with her sickly late husband, Masahei.

      Yuri was in agony, washed by appetites of the flesh like deep smarting in her body. After sexual union, Yuri felt strangely cramped in her abdomen for a little while.

      Yuri thought, held in Mosaku's arms, "How male and female would act in such situations. What have I done from now in ignorance?"

      The marriage of Mosaku and Yuri was opposed by her elder brother, Kihei, and all her relatives. In spite of the opposition of others, both kept meeting secretly.

      Nao made a deep bow before Ikkyu Shrine which was the tutelary deity in Hori Village (currently, Hori, Fukuchiyama City) and prayed to the gods.

      "How, cold!" She was exposed to the year-end breeze. There were trees with thick foliage in the precinct of the shrine and the sunlight didn't find its way in. She nodded to a giant hinoki (Japanese cypress) of about 300 years old and was going to hurry back on the stone way with her pack of dry goods.

      She came near to running against a man who was dashing up the stone steps.

      "Hey, O-Nao-han." "Oh my! Rinsuke-han."

      Both called out to each at the same time and were very surprised at the unexpected meeting. Rinsuke then asked her the traditional question, "Do you pray to the gods?" "Yes, I visited the shrine on my way to Hori on my business. And you?" Nao asked him. He said, "On my way to visit Fukuchiyama on business." "But, why do you visit here?" "I'd like to pray to the gods in the Ikkyu Shrine. I didn't expect to meet you here at all. Just a moment, wait, wait..., I'm going to pray to gods and come back quickly."

      There were no shadows of persons in the precinct. Perhaps, people were busy from half of December. Nao viewed the back of Rinsuke praying seriously to the gods, feeling him reliable.

      The parents of Rinsuke and Nao were familiar with each other and both had been the childhood friends. Rinsuke was the second son of a peasant in Naka Village (currently Naka, Fukuchiyama City). Nao remembered that her mother visited his house with her a little while ago her father began peddling amazake (the sweet drink made from fermented rice). At that time, Nao was seven years old. Rinsuke was fourteeen years old.

      Nao played with Rinsuke while their parents were chatting. Rinsuke led Nao by the hand and visited Anga Shrine. This shrine was located on the height and they viewed the Anga Village. The giant sugi trees (Japanese cedars) stood close together. Was it Nao's hallucination that a lot of small gods like abundant fruit borne on the thick bough looked down at Nao?

      After praying together, the boy, Rinsuke asked her half in fun, "What do you pray for in earnest?" "I pray for my father stop drinking sake wand work more for my grandmother and mother." Rinsuke heard her answer and looked suddenly as if the inner part of his nose tickled.

      "Brother, what do you pray for?" She asked innocently.

      "About? Yes, I pray for various things." "Unfair! You made only me tell. Say, tell me your prayer." "Well, I wonder if I prayed too much." "And, what do you pray?" "Bless the society so our peasants enjoy richer and happier lives!"

      Nao couldn't understand what he said, but attempted to remember his words. She had him take a ferryboat on the river Hazumaki. She caught small crucians and gudgeons in a net in the brook with him.

      There were a lot of the mid-stream water mills utilizing the river at Onigasaki. The strongest industry of the village was fine noodles made from raw materials of wheat and seed oil produced by the power source of the mid-stream water mills. Nao was very surprised at the good taste of the fine noodles at lunch.

      He was seven years older than her. In those days, he looked like a grown-up when she saw him. But, now, she didn't feel the disparity in age. They had lived in the same young generation.

      Rinsuke seriously told her, "Excuse me for keeping you waiting. Well, let's go." Nao walked one step behind him.

      The beautiful line of pine trees stretched along the western side of Kyo Highway. This way leads to the place named Hebigahatayabu (the Thicket of the Snake Nest). There were a lot of bamboo trees, nettle trees of hundreds of years old, and other miscellaneous giant plants in the place. In the flood, the thicket had protected the village against the water of the Yura river, which had its origin from several tens of kilometers to the east.

      Snow was falling in flakes from the dark sky. Rinsuke stopped and looked up at the sky. "If this keeps up, it will snow heavily."

      "So, it is very difficult to reach Nakamura Village." "No, it is said snow purifies."

      Rinsuke smiled refreshingly. Nao felt his healthy white teeth were more pure than snow.

      When both passed through the thicket and reach Sangenjaya, on this side of Kyoguchimon, Rinsuke looked back at Nao. He said, "Would you like to have a hot meal with me?"

      "At the side of the lunch counter, three samurais were drinking sake though it was daytime. Both entered on other lunch counter to escape the samurais. Rinsuke ordered adzuki-bean soup with rice cake from a waitress and bobbed his head.

      "Congratulations! You are doing a fine job for a long term." Nao didn't understand what he said.

      Rinsuke said, "You served your apprenticeship, you know. I have wanted to visit you to give congratulations the instant I heard you resigned your service, but I was so very busy because of the autumn harvest and other matters that I couldn't see you. It took about seven years for you to serve your apprenticeship even though you were a girl after the death of Gorozaburo-han. You have borne up well. I guess you had a tough time."

      Nao shook her head negatively. While serving, she had to work hard and had no time to feel pain for her life. And she felt now very happy to be able to live with her family.

      Rinsuke said seriously, "If Gorozaburo-han hadn't died, he would be pleased to see your beautiful figure as a good daughter." "I have no good remembrance concerning my father. If I am allowed to say, I think that my father's death was given me peace. I truly think so."

      Nao couldn't hide her feelings. Rinsuke saw her with surprise and muttered to himself, "I think that a man wants to be respected by his wife and children at least. The husband endeavors not to fail to meet family's expectations. Females can't understand what I say, but it is true. Perhaps, Gorozaburo-han attempted it, but he had no chance to do it and died feeling mortified. Even after his death, I take pity on him."

      Nao blushed her ears. She thought that it might be so. She had always treated her father as if a demon. Her grandmother and mother also did so. If she had respected her father who peddled amazake.... Her father who hadn't been loved and feared by his family was very pitiful....

      Nao thought that it was irrevocable beyond ever recalling it.

      "Well, the sweet taste of amazake which father made me drink at the opening of amazake shop! I ought to remember that taste and keep hold of father's memory."

      Rinsuke told her in haste, noticing the shaking of her thin shoulders and downcast eyes, "Excume me. I said you are foolish. Well, please eat your shiruko (adzuki-bean soup with rice cake) before it gets cool. Try and see who will eat the most if you like.

      She nooded to him with a smile. She took a sip of shiruko trying not to show her fears. In an instant, the surrounding changed to a beautiful scene. The white snow fell over the hills and fields and made a beautiful contrast with the black color of the shiruko. "This shiruko is better tasting than father's amazake after all." "O-Nao-han, can you guess for what I prayed to the gods in Ikkyu Shrine?," Rinsuke said artificially. Nao replied as if reading from a book, "Bless the peasants according to their hard work..., so?" He appeared surprised and had a joyful look on his face. "Have you remembered my words of a long time ago, in your childhood?" he said. Nao replied, "Certainly, I can now understand very well what you said."

      Under the influence of the great famine of Tenpo, the finances of the Fukuchiyama clan became extremely poor and they went about one hundred thousand ryos deeper in debt.

      Samurai's authority in society was cast down. In 1850 (Kaei 3), the Fukuchiyama clan ordered the finances to be reshuffled by Soemon Harai, the top ranking members named Metsuke, Yonin, and Giemon Ichikawa. But, at the time of 1852 (Kaei 5), the clan severely enforced the Price Control Ordinance. The peasants worked harder and harder, but were cornered into the situation of not being able to scratch out their living.

      "I regret to say that I prayed to the gods for myself. No, not only own that." Rinsuke closed his eyes and parodied praying by folding his hands and reciting jokingly, "Gods! Please give your blessings for O-Nao-han to marry me. If it is possible, I vow to live happily with her. I am going to be a hard worker and make her life happy." Rinsuke was praying, closing his eyes.

      Yuri stood in front of Nao's house, being exposed to the cold wind. "Sister, O-Nao-han, I'd like to speak to you," she shouted.

      Yuri Deguchi set out ill all that was about her elder brother and relatives to her grandmother and mother. It might safely be said that Mosaku entered upon middle age. The immoral acts of both were exposed to society and was frowned on by villagers. Taking advantage of their bad rumors, Yuri's elder brother, Kihei Deguchi, Gisuke Deguchi, the head of the family, and Sahei Deguchi of the branch family, plotted together to take over the property of late Masahei Deguchi. They were strongly opposed to the marriage of Yuri and Mosaku. Relatives came short of their expectation because Yuri adopted Toyosuke as her son after the first adopted son, Kikuzo. And, relatives suffered more from the plan of Yuri's second marriage because they would seize Yuri's property. Yuri was isolated and was placed in a painful position. She only relied on elder sister, Soyo, who was married into the Kirimura family.

      Nao hated her uncles' stratagem and also couldn't recognize aunt's old sexual love. Comparing her mother, Soyo, who had no memory of her husband and lived frugally long after her husband's death, Nao had a dislike for Yuri and felt her life to be squalid.

      Nao's grandmother, Take, made agreeable responses, inflaming Yone tearful complaints of grief, "Truly. Your father was a very sober person, and four out of five children were good-natured. But, only the eldest son, Kihei is bad because of the old fox. It is very strange that the same seed had put forth a good bud and a bad bud."

      Nao, moving the spinning wheel beside her family, got the feel of her mother's shame hearing good rumors of her elder brother. Nao thought that Yuri had to come back as quickly as possible. Nao was anxious about unfortunate occurrences in the future, hearing of Yuri's story and her love to Rinsuke. Yuri suddenly changed the subject of the conversation.

      "And, about O-Nao. How about my request? Okay?" Aunt spoke in a tone of entreaty. Grandmother turned away disagreeably and mother said timidly, "Oh, it is..., concerning the person herself."

      Yuri crawled on her knees up to Nao focusing on her with red bloodshot eyes while Soyo was speaking, "O-Nao-han, help me. I'm left alone and rely on only you. Please come home to Ayabe. I have made arrangements for your marriage with my good son-in-law named Toyosuke. Toyosuke has now served his apprenticeship in Isa Village and becomes a good carpenter. If you come my home, I will endeavor to make a good situation for you."

      Nao closed her lips solidly. Nao, who hadn't gone against any person's will, revolted stoutly against her aunt. At the New Year, Rinsuke will visit Nao's house and offer marriage to her. Until his request, Nao had to refuse her aunt's request.

      Yuri went back after tediously asking for adoption. Nao's mother sighed oppressively, "I have put you to so much trouble without treating you kindly as your mother. I'm sorry to intrude my own convenience on you, please become daughter-in-law of your aunt, in mercy to Yuri's suffering so much from you." Nao continued to be silent.

      "Nao, you are a female. You will marry a man in future and take the man's family name. And take my words as my last request to you. Please succeed the family name, Deguchi. If the family into which my younger sister, Yuri was married would be ruined, I feel much regret for each generation of my ancestors. Listen. Everything will be decided by the gods." Nao's mother, Soyo said and sobbed.

      By now, Nao couldn't refuse the pleas of her mother. From this day, she changed her will.

      Grandmother, Take, added, "I think it is very difficult for Nao to leave this house. This daughter has, at long last, been able to live with us after serving her apprenticeship. I say, it is necessary to have more time for Nao to enter Yuri's house." Grandmother didn't want to send away her dear grandmother far as long as possible. But, grandmother also thought that it was better for Nao to be adopted into the Deguchi family, because her family would be unable to make the necessary sacrifices for her wedding. She would not be needy in the rich Deguchi family. Understanding the situation, grandmother, Take, who didn't have many years to live, became attached to her granddaughter.

      Nao asked mother by bowing with hands on the tatami, "Mother, please wait for a short time to give you answer about me to my aunt." Nao could only take today's occurrence as a dream. She prayed to the gods trembling with anxiety.

      On 1853 (Kaei 6) of the New Year, Rinsuke brought his offer of marriage to Nao to the Kirimura family through an intermediatry.

      But, the Kirimura family couldn't easily refuse Yuri's yearning to adopt Nao. The Kirimura family didn't give a ready answer, and Rinsuke visited Nao's house. Grandmother, Take, and mother, Soyo, were moved by him who earnestly opened his heart to Nao's family. Above all, her younger sister, Riyo, was pleased to hear this story. Nao's elder brother, Seibei, who had served the oil shop, also agreed with the marriage between Rinsuke and Nao. The Kirimura family begged off the adoption to Yuri and made arrangements for the engagement of Nao to Rinsuke. Considering the circumstances of both, both families decided the wedding ceremony would be held the next autumn.

      In her life, the term of love was only this time. It was the springtime of brief life in which Nao was intoxicated with delight.

      In February, 1854 (Ansei 1), the Tokugawa Shogunate concluded the U.S.-Japan Peace Treaty and also the Peace Treaty with England and Russia, and exposed at a stroke the policy of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The end of the Tokugawa era rushed headlong into the riot.

      In autumn this year, when Nao came back from an errand until the entrance of the house, she noticed that Yuri Deguchi spoke in a high pitched voice in the house. "Sister, you shall soon see. After my killing myself, my evil spirit will take possession of Kihei, Gisuke and Sahei and call down a curse to kill them." Grandmother, Take shouted, "What do you say?"

      "Leave me alone! I will throw them into a muddy ditch, and make burn them. I'll show my revenge on them," Yuri screamed.

      The door of the house suddenly was opened and Nao's mother and Yuri rushed out in a tangle and grandmother and younger sister chosed out after them. Nao's mother, Soyo attempted to stop Yuri, but Yuri thrust her away and laughed suddenly as a mad woman. Nao felt my spine go cold hearing her laugh.

      Nao being rooted to the ground till Yuri ran away, helped her mother up with a start. "Mother! What happened with Yuri?" Nao asked, but her mother could say nothing but only cover her pale face with hands.

      Grandmother, Take, being called a devil, flared up, "Relative has joined in bullying Yuri."

      Younger sister, Riyo, abruptly blubbered hard, "Aunt became mad." No one denied Riyo's word looking at each other a sulky look.

      Grandmother told the story that uncle, Kihei visited Yuri and gently told her the following.

      "It may be amiss to rashly oppose your will because you have so much loved him. But, that would be shameful. Go to Koumori Village calmly and wait for the rumors to quiet down. I'm going to make you marry Mosaku through consulting with you in a neighbors' meeting."

      Hearing uncle's story, Yuri was mad with joy and went to meet Mosaku at once, it was said.

      Today, a neighbor sent Yuri the urgent message that a relative attempted to take the household effects from the Yuri's house while she was gone and the neighbors stopped them being unable to stand by any longer. They tried to seize Yuri's property after driving her away.

      Mother, Soyo, smiled with an effort, "Yuri went back after persistently asking for Nao's adoption. She wants hard Nao to enter her house and continue to pray to the ancestors of the Deguchi family. It is hateful because I clearly refused Nao's adoption. And Toyosuke-han has already been adopted into her family. He is a very good man."

      Grandmother, Take, said, "But, Yuri wishes to be respected by Nao's relatives and marry Toyosuke." Mother knit her brows, "Why?"

      "No problem. Leave her alone. O-Nao ought to marry Rinsuke." Mother muttered squeezing herself. "It is infernal that brother and sister are claiming the property. This shame is too much for me," said younger sister lonely clinging her mother's knees. "But, is aunt safe? She was so much confused," sister said. "There is no precedent that a person said they would kill themselves and actually committed suicide," Grandmother said brusquely.

      There was a closeness in air in this night and all family couldn't sleep well and rolled about in bed. At dawn, Riyo sobbed, having a nightmare.

      After two days, Yuri Deguchi was found dead. At that evening that Yuri visited the house of the Kirimura family, someone saw a figure like hers in front of the house of Mosaku in Koumori Village. It seemed that she would come back to Koumori, but felt shame to show herself to Mosaku and told him the last "good-by" secretly out of the door of Mosaku's house.

      Her corpse was found in a well in the field in Shigasato Village (currently Shigasato-cho, Ayabe City). She died at the age of fifty.

      The death of Yuri Deguchi changed Nao's life. The house of the Deguchi family was left closed after her death. The garden of her house was left to run wild just like her dementia, and inside of the house was in confusion. The Kirimura family had to enshrine the spirit of Yuri because she left the grudge against her relatives. The adopted son, Toyosuke, was now serving and couldn't come back. Nao was obliged to manage Yuri's house for the present. Nao moved to aunt's house by herself in Ayabe Village.

      Ayabe-gumi (it means a small unit of small area in a village in the Edo period), Tsubonouchi Village in which the house of the Deguchi family was located at the outskirts of a town and at the foot of Hongu Mountain. Farmhouses and craftsman's houses were found here and there in this area.

      Nao's memory of that time was very dark. She feared the night in the large room in which Yuri's Buddhist memorial tablet was kept. Nao guessed that aunt had passed alone in the dark of this house at every night just as Nao herself and sought the love of Mosaku. Nao bore the solitude thinking of marriage with Rinsuke. She thought that her wedding ceremony would certainly be held in autumn next year. Rinsuke had already become her husband in her mind.

      Nao suffered much from the relatives of the Deguchi family. They held her in contempt because she was young and didn't recognize the circumstances of the Deguchi family, and entered the house without permission to carry off, the best household effects, saying "There are my goods." The others said, "Pay back the money which I lent Yuri," and one relative changed the holder without permission, saying, "Yuri promised to present me a part of the rice field." These fellows were Kihei Deguchi, Gisuke Deguchi, Sahei Deguchi and others who had persecuted Yuri. Nao was very anxious about property which was going to be plucked off by them. Nao thought, "Aunt's heart was set on her property and her adopted son, Toyosuke-han."

      Nao changed her mind and said to them, "Please show me proof from my aunt," and so repelled their requests.

      Nao occurred to an important thing. It was what aunt Yuri came to Fukuchiyama to say. After Yuri entreated Nao's mother, Soyo, to allow the adoption of Nao, she said, "I have deposited lares and penates with a neighbor, Heibei, a grinder to take to Koumori Village. If the unexpected should happen to me, Nao will certainly take it back from Heibei." Nao visited the house of Heibei who lived three or four doors off. The straw-thatched roof was out of shape and the characters "The Grinder Shop" were faded.

      Opening the dor with grating noise, Nao told Heibei her aunt's will. Heibei, sharpening a katana, behaved like a stranger toward her. He was still young. "Why? I can't understand what you said. This is the first time I have heard of this, and I had no involvement with your aunt. Please wait, I wonder if my wife knows about it."

      He went to the back room. After a while, he appeared with his wife, Kinu, holding her baby.

      Kinu said with a chip on her shoulder from the beginning, "Don't speak unpleasantly. Hen! Do you say your things are on deposit? Do you make a false charge against us? Show us your aunt's proof." She spoke high-handedly and talked volubly abusive language concerning Yuri. Nevertheless, Heibei and his wife didn't focus on Nao's face. Nao apologized to them in haste and went out of the door because she couldn't allow them to insult aunt any more. Going out of the dim house, the sun dazzled her eyes.

      Nao heard that aunt had a very close relation with wife of the grinder. And, she would deposit lares and penates of the Deguchi family relying on them. Nao felt terrible about the greed of people. They spoke ill of their friend because of greed. Nao thought that it was said aunt was driven into a tight corner and killed by the greed of her relatives, the grinder, and by her own greed.

      Nao finished cleaning up the garden and rooms of the Deguchi family for a month. She couldn't bear to stay in Ayabe for a moment more. After she endeavored to manage this house, she wanted to entrust this house to Toyosuke, whose term of service would expire at the end of this year. Under the cold sky in November, Nao tightly closed the door of the house and went to Fukuchiyama without looking aside. She felt a chill creep over her back. "I'm getting a cold," she thought. "But, what is this bad feeling? It seemed as if something cold and heavy is on my back."

      Four or five nights after Nao came back to Fukuchiyama, she pushed aside her futon frantically feeling oppressed in the chest. A female, just as a shadow, stood beside Nao's legs. "Who? Aunt Yuri?"

      Wet hair and kimono of the female, floating pallidly in the dark room, dripping water.

      "You, O-Nao, you refuse to hold the requiem mass for the repose of the souls of my forefathers. I asked you to do it so much.... I have a grudge against you."

      From the bottom of kimono, Yuri's ghost bent heavily over Nao and her cold fingers gripped her throat. Nao was bound hand and foot while squirming, but she shouted with unmovable lips, "To the god, Ikkyu Shrine, gods...."

      Yuri's fingers let go of Nao one finger by one finger.

      "You wretch...reproachful...." The gloomy voice of Yuri died away gradually in the distance as if vanishing in the dark. Is it result of withdrawing of Yuri's memory. Nao focused on the direct to her shadow as if attracted by a magnet. Yuri floated prone and passed through the ceiling and went out through the roof shaking the bottom of her kimono with her hair fluttering. Nao could mysteriously see through Yuri. Yuri jumped over the roof over about eighteen meters at a dash and came down to sit astride the edge of the roof. The moment the face of Yuri changed to as demon, she made the roof creak and threw the roofing tiles one by one at Nao.

      "For three and four days, you haven't given me tea or water."

      This voice plunged into Nao's heart, Nao stiffened in her terror and lost consciousness.

      From that time, Nao was laid up with the intense fever of forty degrees. The doctor didn't understand the result of her disease and gave her up.

      Nao's grandmother, Take, asserted, "Terrible! It is the evil spell of Yuri's memory." The family of Nao called a healer and made him expel evil spirits, but it was not effective to Nao at all. A few days after she was fell sick, everyone recognized that Nao, sinking fast, was near her death. Her family could only pray to the gods to heal her disease.

      "Look at Nao for a few minutes. She seems to be saying something," Take, sitting up by her bedside, said. Soyo and Riyo leaned forward to look at Nao closely. Rinsuke who hurried here from Nakamura Village, hearing the urgent message concerning Nao, stared at her lips.

      Nao was moving fretfully wracked by her fever. Soyo wiped her lips with wet cotton.

      "Allow me...I have married...," Nao grasped at the air with her thin hand. "O-Nao-han, I am here. I'm Rinsuke. Do you see?" Rinsuke grasped Nao's hands, but she refused to touch it, "No, I Ayabe...." She was convulsed, groaning, "Help me...Rinsuke-han...." Nao continued to grasp at the air and opened her eyes with no fixed point which her eyes were turned. Rinsuke beging confused embraced her tightly, but Nao didn't notice him. "Where does her soul float?" Rinsuke wept in spite of his manhood. Riyo said with tears in her voice, "It is cruel of aunt, Yuri to do such a thing. She is going to take Rinsuke by force from my elder sister and take her back to Ayabe at all costs."

      The shoji fell noisily and the flame of the paper-covered lamp stand blazed up suddenly. Grandmother, Take, prayed ecstatically to Amitabha.

      Riyo's eyes centered and grew quiet. She shouted to unable to see Yuri's memory shaking hard, "My aunt, Yuri, I am Riyo. Please recognize that elder sister will marry Rinsuke-han. Aunt would know it was suffering that the pair of lovers was separated. Well, I'm going to the Deguchi family and marry Toyosuke-han. Do you understand what I said? Calm down."

      The flame of the paper-covered lamp stand swayed even though there was no wind and blew out. Nao uttered a shriek in the dark. Nao groaned, "I am bad in everything. Allow Rinsuke-han...."

      Nao was convulsed in Rinsuke's arms and cried out, "Aunt, I...go to Ayabe."

      Rinsuke strained his tragic voice, "I give up O-Nao-han. Give me your grudge instead of O-Nao-han, and help her." His tears ran fast down his cheeks.

      There was heard a calling voice from afar. Seeking that voice, she was swimming in the dark sea and reached the shore with difficulty. Some figures swayed. Nao focused on these and found dear faces.

      "Oh, dear," Nao said in a faint voice. "Hey, you wake up," Take said in a husky voice. Nao saw red eyes of mother, younger sister and Rinsuke, and smiled weakly. Rinsuke could not put up with it and sobbed into his hands.

      Nao was able to painfully leave her bed forty days since this mysterious occurrence. Autumn had passed too soon and the year-end came in a hurry.

      Nao had continued to love Rinsuke deep in her mind since their separation. But, this sorrowful occurrence certainly had dropped a shadow into Nao's life.

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