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the emperor's armies. If it is his will that you know, then it will be revealed unto you. If not-"
"But I shall know!" he cried again.
"One thing I would know, if it please you," said the priest, courteously-"one thing not impious. You come in a kago. Even your bearers are samurai and wear two swords. Then it must be that you are above the samurai, perhaps a young daimio, perhaps even a kuge?" "Secret for secret!" laughed
the young man. "Who gives his health for mine?"
"To-morrow," bowed the priest, gently, "when the sun is here on the dial, come. Not before, not after. Pray. The gods will heal you."
"And you may call meToya," laughed the young man. "The Lord Toya," agreed the priest.
Then the priest went his way, and the lordly bearers carried the young man to his kago, singing a strange song.
OW, when Akimo knew that the young man was coming, he hid the girl in the pedestal of Jodin, behind the fretwork. When he had gone, she flew forth to pray: "Namu amida, Jodin-" The priest interrupted her: "Jodin can wait," he smiled, "and also the young man. You heard what I saideight weeks? To the Feast of Lanterns?" The girl nodded.
"What is your name?"
"Hasu-San." She smiled, and the priest knew it was not her name; but he nodded. "Hasu-no-Hana," he replied, "the Lotus-Blossom. But you are not a geisha; that is a geisha name. Are we to know neither you nor him?"
"Some day I will dance for you. Then you will know whether I am a geisha. You will wish me for a temple-dancer, to please your gods. Ah!"
For the wise priest had shaken his head. "Some day! In the eight weeks to the Feast of the Blessed Dead, which Jodin has fixed for the healing of the youth, there will be no dancing-no more than he could dance now who sat here. You are to take the youth's illness. And ever after-no dancing."
"Well," sighed the girl, "he will be in the guards; I shall have sent him there. He will be my soldier-mine. Think of that! Was ever a girl in Japan so very useful before, so happy?"
"Not often," agreed the
The girl shook her head wilfully. "But his-his name?" she asked. "No," said the priest. "I do not know it. Like you, he makes a false name, Toya." "Toya!" The girl rolled it upon her tongue happily.
"Toya," nodded the priest, not ignorant of this.
"And to-morrow, when the sun is at the red stroke on the dial, may I hide again beneath Jodin?"
"It is sin," said the priest, "to use a god to gratify a woman's curiosity." "Curiosity?" questioned the girl. "Curiosity," denounced the priest. "No," said the girl at last, "it is not curiosity. It is something which makes my heart beat twice where it should beat but once. I have been curious before, oh, yes, I am a woman,--but it never made heart to beat twice where it should beat but once."
"It is this I have feared," said the priest, ominously.
"Therefore," begged the girl, "when he comes tomorrow She pointed to her hiding-place under Jodin. "To-morrow," said the
IV. THE TOKUGAWA CREST
FTER that, every day when the sun was precisely at the red mark Akimo had made on the lacquer, Toya was taken from his kago by the bearers and put on the brocade cushion before the god. And so it went on till the bearers came no more into the temple, but waited outside while their young lord entered alone, and sat on the cushion; until one day there were no longer kago or bearers. Instead, there stalked into the temple a tall young man in the uniform of the Imperial Guards, with a sword on his thigh!
And each of these days a small face, growing paler and paler, was pressed to the fretwork in the base of Jodin, and a small heart beat two to one until he had gone. After that, her heart would beat only one where it should have beaten two. And on the last day the beleaguered little organ stopped entirely; for now he would go away, and she
would never see him again. Indeed, there was a moment in which she almost begged Shaka not to make him quite well, so that he would come to the temple now and then, no matter how few his visits. But she was in time to recall that wish before it could possibly have reached the ears of Buddha.
"Tell him," cried Toya, laughing, to the bent old priest on that last day, "who gave his legs for mine that I am taking them to Port Arthur to serve the emperor. When that is over, I will bring them back to him. And that he may know that a soldier pays his debts, take the ring my father wore, and his, and his unto antiquity. And he shall fetch it to me and claim his legs, or anything my purse, my heart, my unborn souls can give him."
"The secrets of God are sacred in the temple," warned the priest. But they saw that the ring was engraved with the Tokugawa crest.
FTER he was gone, they found the Lotus-Blossom in the pedestal, quite dead, it seemed.
But no; she lived there in the temple ever after, though more like a broken-stemmed lily than any lotus.
"But you cannot!"
And what they meant was: "But you shall not!"
For Hasu was now so much a part of them that, to go away
"She would die," said the priest to the
For as Toya got well, Hasu truly be- acolyte. came ill.
But she was very happy, and, strangely enough, the face which had been beautiful before, with the oval Yamato beauty of the princesses of old, became almost divine.
The acolyte had been a worker in bamboo before entering the priesthood, and he now wove for Hasu a wonderful chair, with soft bamboo wheels, in which they would push her about the pleasant gardens of the temple.
Said she to Akimo and the acolyte one day:
"Me? I should go away. I have done what I came for. Why do you not send me away?"
And both cried out at once:
"So should we," laughed the acolyte, who had rapidly grown to be a young
On another day Hasu-San said: "Also, I should tell you my name. now it does not matter. I shall tell it to you."
And again both cried out, "No."
For now they were afraid to know who she was, lest it might be their hard duty to take her to her home.
And again she said:
"I said I would dance to you, to the gods, in red hakama, with bells sewn to the hems; but now I am breaking my promise. Send me away, I honorably beg of you!"
"And I," the old priest broke in, "said
that in eight weeks, when the Feast of the Blessed Dead came-you will remember what I said. Therefore are no promises broken."
"Of course," the girl interrupted quite heinously, "you know that the legs which might dance are at Port Arthur."
"Also that some day they will be back. What, then?"
"Then,”—and the heart of the girl could be seen in its tumult-"then? Then I shall not be here. I shall die."
"That," said the priest, with the very greatest of Japanese severity, "would be exceedingly impolite."
Now, who would willingly be attainted of impoliteness-in Japan?
"Then," murmured the girl, "you command that I remain-perhaps even to see this great soldier, with the glory of war for the emperor fresh upon him—perhaps to speak to him-face to face?"
"Yes!" said the priest, terribly.
"How can I?" begged the girl. "Me? Certainly I shall die. Permit me to go away, august bonze!"
The bonze denied this permission, and from the shrewd twinkle in his eye one might suspect that he did not fear her death.
VI. THE GOING AND THE STAYING
ND presently it was too latefar, far too late; for the war was over. There had been that amazing ceremony at the War Temple in Tokio, and Toya was coming to this temple with his medals and all his glory to lay them at the feet of the man who, he said, owned them.
Well, would you have run away from that had you been Hasu-San?
In fact, it was as sleepless for her as those days leading to the Feast of Lanterns, and she trembled more now than she did then. However, it must be confessed that she also laughed more. But that inconstant heart! It would beat two to one, and then reverse itself and beat one to two, which phenomenon, as any one with the least therapeutic intelligence knows, must be stopped, if one is to live on.
And what of her going? "I cannot go now unless you take me," sighed the girl.
"You cannot go unless we take you," agreed the priest.
'Alas! glad you are that I have no legs. And as for him, great soldier that he is, he will crush me like an ant."
But the priest and the acolyte not only did not agree to that, but became preternaturally savage at the mere thought of it.
"I repeat," said the girl, "that he will crush me like an ant."
"She repeats," prompted the studentpriest, "that he will crush her like an ant."
But the old bonze only smiled.
'What am I to him?"
"True," agreed the priest, "what are you to him!"
"Or-or he to me?"
But here Hasu-San looked down.
glance to the acolyte-
VII. THE LEGS OF A SOLDIER
UT the great day came a bit suddenly. Without the least warning, Colonel Toya strode into the temple. Fortunately, the student was alone; Akimo was pushing Hasu about the garden, for it was the beginning of the cherry-blossoms. However, it was only a moment until they were together.
"Now," cried Colonel Toya, if you please, quite overlooking Hasu, "where is the man whose legs I have?"
The hand of Hasu reached up and pinched that of Akimo.
"Man?" compromised the priest with his conscience. "I know not." "You must find him for me," said Toya in a soldier's way.
"Surely, Lord," said the priest, suavely. "And, Hasu-San, who is very wise, though a girl, will help, will you not?"
"Surely," said the girl.
"No secret of the temple shall
might see it the better, dropped on his knee before her chair.
And then and there I fear the wonderful business of love, as we call it on the Western Hemisphere, was accomplished. "Child," said the officer, "thy face is like Usume's.".
And observe that he used the ancient and honorable mode of address, used by princes to their ladies, and that he thought her as beautiful as the celestial dancer, she who had lured the sun goddess from her cave when the world was dark!
And all little Hasu could an
"And you are gl-glitteringlike the war-god, Lord." While she reached out a timorous hand, and, like a child attracted by toys, touched the medals on his breast. "You are gl-glorious as Hachiman, Ojin Tenno, Izaniga-all together."
But truly the glory of war meant
stand between me and honor," cried the nothing to the young officer here, in the soldier.
"Though the secrets of the temple are sacred," said the priest, precisely as he had said it before, "yet Hasu-San and I and Chugori-all will help you to find this-" Shall you be offended if you are told that the old priest stopped to laugh? "Man!" he said then, and a certain occult salute of the eyes passed between the three of the temple.
And Colonel Toya, having his attention called to Hasu both by the words of the priest and her own musical voice, turned up her face and then, that he
temple garden, with a face as beautiful as Usume's before him.
For to understand how beautiful that was, you are to be reminded that Usume was fair enough to make even the sun goddess jealous.
"And what is thy illness, child?" the officer went on.
It was the priest who answered: "Legs."
He shook his head hopelessly.
"They shall be healed, they shall be made entirely well," cried the soldier. "Silence!" To Akimo's mute protest.
"Do I not know? Was I not more ill than she is? Did not Jodin heal me?"
was fairly bursting. Who had ever heard of a soldier bothering about a woman!
"Yet," the priest went on, "what know we of this girl who comes to be healed? Pooh! She may be a beggar. She may be an eta. What know we of her?"
"Ah," said the priest, "but who will take her illness? In all the world there was none for you until-" Almost it came out-but for the sharp nails of Hasu in his palm-"until he came who took yours, Lord Toya. He! Who will take her illness? A woman!"
"I," said the soldier. "I owe it to some one. And since you will not find me the man A soldier pays his debts, and those of honor damn one to the hells if not paid."
At which no fewer than three pairs of hands flew into the air, and three pairs of eyes lifted themselves to where the myriads of the gods were. Such madness!
"I have said it," cried the young soldier. "Yes, I have said it. Now, either you will find this man who gave his legs for mine, or I will heal this woman!"
"Thou hast truly said it, Lord Toya," bowed the priest and the acolyte, with humble haste. And the old priest added benignly: "That is an unheard of thing, for a great soldier to bother about healing a mere-ahem! woman. But -thou hast said it, and a soldier keeps his word. So, if the man who healed thee cannot be found, thou wilt heal this woman."
"I have said it," repeated the soldier.
And Hasu-San's heart
"And what know I of him who took my illness? Was he a prince? Was he a beggar? And if a beggar, is my debt to him less than if he be a prince? Did he give me less, if a beggar, than he would have given me if a prince? As for this maiden-"
He turned and looked long at her. Something very good came into his eyes; something very gentle spoke in his voice.
"As for this maiden, whether she be beggar or princess, the gods have made her face, and the goddesses her heart. And they have sent her to me, even as the moon-maid was sent, all neatly packed in a bamboo-joint. So. Do we ask the lineage of the gods' gifts to us?" And then Prince Toya, if prince he was, did the strangest thing he had yet done. He placed the two soft hands of the girl on his cheeks.
"Gods!" cried the priest, "a woman for a soldier!" But when he and the acolyte were alone, he placed his hands upon the shoulders of the boy and said:
"Boy, Shaka is good, Shaka is very good!"
OWEVER, out of all this grew a beautiful camaraderie, for the soldier came to the temple every day, and the four were happier than the three had been. He told them of his battles, and the glory and honor of it all. But sometimes they were alone, he and Hasu-San. Then he never spoke of battle. It was of the gentle things. For all soldiers are poets in Japan. "I wish you were healed," cried the young man one day.
tle lady Hasu wished that she were well; but then just as suddenly she blotted out that wish, and meant to pray all night for forgiveness. If she were well, what would he be? For so far as she understood the workings of the god Jodin, precisely the process which had secured Lord Toya a pair of good legs would be reversed if she were to have her good ones restored.
Sometimes he would take her hands while he talked and pass his rough ones over the satin of them. Then Hasu would close her eyes and go straight to Buddha's bosom. One day it was so exquisite that a tear stole from under one lid. He put And suddenly, deep in her soul, the lit- his handkerchief over the tear, and then
"Why, Lord?" asked the girl. "Then I would marry you," answered the soldier.