Puslapio vaizdai
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VOL. 87


No. 4




Author of "Madam Butterfly," etc.



KIMO and Chugori were going the rounds of the temple, both to close it for the night and to retrieve those things which worshipers had lost or forgotten.

The student-priest was a pace in advance of the old bonze with a lantern, which he held close to the shining floor. Precisely before Benten, goddess of beauty, he picked up a splendid tortoise-shell thing half as long as an arm, and passed it to the keeper-priest.

"Hair-pins and a woman!" laughed the bonze, in the phrase of the proverb. "Never one without the other."

Before Kwannon lay a lacquered geta. "A geisha," said the priest, shaking his wise head, "and one who has an affection greater than for parent-or mother-inlaw; for only such could walk on one foot, forgetting that she has two."

The serious boy could not entirely understand this humor.

"Last great moon," the old bonze went on, "a woman forgot her child."

The solemn young acolyte understood this. Marubushu-San meant Miss Lemon, and it was the name of a goat tethered in a remote part of the temple gardens.

But now they were come before the god Jodin, and both suddenly stood fast; for there lay a young girl, with her forehead to the lacquered floor. She was not dead,

that they knew at once, though this had happened in the temple, for they could hear some words of a prayer.”

"Namu amida, Jodin . . . legs—"

The two sat quietly down to wait for the ending of the prayer. This was Jap


"It is certain," whispered the boy, "that she does not pray for her own legs," pointing to them seriously.

The keeper smiled and nodded.

These supple young members were serving the girl perfectly as she bowed and rose upon them, always murmuring her prayer.

And though the priest and his attendant. sat patiently for many minutes, they might as well not have been there so far as the girl was concerned. It is the Japanese "What of Marubushu-San?" laughed way in the temple: one who ought not to

"Oh," cried the boy, "and it died because you could not feed it?"

the elder.

be there is not.

Copyright, 1914, by THE CENTURY CO. All rights reserved.

Presently the two who served in the sacred place fell into discourse. Nor did this disturb the devotions of the girl. This, too, is Japanese in the temple: what ought not to be heard is not.

"Since you are honorably young," the happy bonze whispered, "perhaps you do not augustly know this Jodin-Sama."

"No," admitted the acolyte. "But you, august Father, who know all the eight hundred myriads, will tell me."

"This Jodin heals," nodded the priest, "if one who is well will sit on the spot where sat one who is ill, and pray, always pray, as she is doing. But," the bonze went on pityingly, "he who is well takes. the illness of him who is to be healed. And, son, to teach you how few there be who are willing to do this, observe that the lacquer before Jodin is unworn, and that his features have not been obliterated by caresses. One might call Jodin the unknown god."

"And," whispered the student, in wonder, "she prays for some one she does not know! I listen, Father, and I hear no name."

"It is a young man," answered the old priest. "For many days he has come, carried by samurai bearers in a kago, and sat, and prayed to Jodin. But he is no better. Jodin does not help in that way. Some one else must take the illness from the spot on which he sits. And this he knows, and his retainers. Yet no one!" The keeper touched the young girl gently. She sat up.

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"Yes, Father," nodded the girl.
"Then why-"

She heinously interrupted him, then bowed low in apology.

"He is so beautiful! Did you see his face, Father?"

"Often I have seen his face, Daughter. Yes, it is beautiful."

"And do you know why he wishes his legs to be healed?"

"That he may fight for the emperor in this war which we hear rumbling afar," nodded the priest. "I, too, have listened." "Well?" smiled the girl into the face of the priest.

"Pray," said the bonze. "The western door will be left open to-night."

"Father, I shall pray all night, and all the nights and days till he is well and in the emperor's guard."

"Child," said the priest, "next to the great god Shaka stands the emperor. But -who are your parents?"

"I forget," laughed the girl, truthfully. "I have in my souls but this one thing." And the priest, sorely puzzled, said:

"I know not whether this be good or ill. Gods! to forget one's parents! Girl," he ended with sudden savagery, "if this is an affection greater than for parents-" "That I do not know," answered the girl, innocently.

"It is sin," declared the priest. "The emperor," reminded the girl. Whereat they all put their foreheads to the floor. And when they sat up again, the girl smiled happily


HE student slept through the night, but the bonze slept and woke all the night. Troubled in spirit was the good old priest. When he woke he could hear the murmur of that prayer; when he slept he dreamed. And the dreams also were troubled: once

into the face of the priest, and then bowed her head. "Pray," nodded the priest.

And as he and the student continued to shuffle their rounds, they could hear those words:

"Namu amida, Jodin . . legs-"


the golden dolphin from the castle-top of Nagoya had come down, and was pursuing him at prodigious speed through the water; again he was only a paper carp filled with wind at the top of a bamboo pole on the Boys' Festival day, and always only the sport of unalterable fate. At


last he dreamed that Jodin stood before him with the sick young man at his side; but now the young man was in the uniform of the Imperial Guards, and his breast was covered with medals. Besides, it was the Feast of Lanterns, as any one could see who dreamed such a dream; for earth and sea and sky were filled with them in his dream. And they were votives to the dead, which is of good fortuneGod's blessed dead.

So when the young man came the next day the priest said:

"You will be honorably well in eight weeks. Last night Jodin spoke to me in my sleep. It was the Feast of Lanterns, and you were in the uniform of the Imperial Guards. There were many medals on your breast. So you are to fight. You are to be brave. You are to be promoted by the emperor. Accept this."

The priest gave him a brocade cushion upon which to sit. It was an heirloom of the temple, filled with herbs of healing, granted only to princely persons; for it had been the gift of Hideyoshi a thousand years before, so it was said.

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"Not these," said the priest. See how they quail. And Jodin requires that he who does must be happy in the doing. Be at peace. Buddha will find the sacrifice. But look at the place where you sit to pray."

The young man understood.

"It is as new as when the layer of lacquer was put down, perhaps-" "Three hundred years ago," nodded the priest.

"So that in all that time but few have been found who were willing to take the illness of another!"

"The human

"Aye," said the priest. monster is a strange being. Will he die for another? Oh, yes, the great red death of the sword or the gun. He who can feel his death-wound spurting in his face dies happily. But, to take that creeping thing called illness, which ever and ever gnaws till it reaches the heart, mayhap after years of torture of the waiting mindwell, you have seen the floor, and the tale of them is told. Me? I have been a priest. of this temple since my youth, and the fingers of one hand would count those who have taken the illness of another. And nearly all have been mothers. So-"

"When may I know who blesses me thus?" interrupted the young man.

"The secrets of the temple are sacred," said the priest.

"But I shall know!" cried the young man. "Be content," urged the priest. "If, because none other can do it, the Lord of Life provides a sacrifice for you, it is certain he needs you elsewhere, perhaps in

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