But on the psychical condition of the family in general she was far from reassuring. Everything about the mansion, the growth of the garden, the flight of the birds, the noises of the night-time, foreboded dire disaster in the near future. The Fujinami were in the grip of a most alarming inge (chain of cause and effect). Several “rough ghosts” were abroad; and were almost certain to do damage before their wrath could be appeased. What was the remedy? It was indeed difficult to prescribe for such complicated cases. Temple charms, however, were always efficacious. The old woman gave the names of some of the shrines which specialized in exorcism.
Some days later the charms were obtained, strips of rice paper with sacred writings and symbols upon them, and were pasted upon posts and lintels all over the house. This was done in Mr. Fujinami’s absence. When he returned, he commented most unfavourably on this act of faith. The prayer tickets disfigured his house. They looked like luggage labels. They injured his reputation as an esprit fort. He ordered the students to remove them.
After this sacrilegious act, the old woman, who had lingered on in the family mansion for several weeks, returned again to Akabo, shaking her white locks and prophesying dark things to come.
* * * * *
For some reason or other, the witch’s visit did not improve Asako’s position. She was expected to perform little menial services, to bring in food at meal-times and to serve the gentlemen on bended knee, to clap her hands in summons to the servant girls, to massage Mrs. Fujinami, who suffered from rheumatism in the shoulder, and to scrub her back in the bath.
Her wishes were usually ignored; and she was not encouraged to leave the house and grounds. Sadako no longer took her cousin with her to the theatre or to choose kimono patterns at the Mitsukoshi store. She was irritated at Asako’s failure to learn Japanese. It bored her to have to explain everything. She found this girl from Europe silly and undutiful.
Only at night they would chatter as girls will, even if they are enemies; and it was then that Sadako narrated the history of her romance with the young student.