One night in a dream she saw his body carried past her, limp and bleeding. She screamed in her sleep. Sadako awoke, terrified.
“What is the matter?”
“I dreamed of Geoffrey, my husband. Perhaps he is killed in the war.”
“Do not say that,” said Sadako. “It is unlucky to speak of death. It troubles the ghosts. I have told you this house is haunted.”
Certainly for Asako the Fujinami mansion had lost its charm. Even the beautiful landscape was besieged by horrible thoughts. Every day two or three of the Yoshiwara women died of disease and neglect, so Sadako said and therefore every day the invisible population of the Fujinami garden must be increasing, and the volume of their curses must be gathering in intensity. The ghosts hissed like snakes in the bamboo grove. They sighed in the pine branches. They nourished the dwarf shrubs with their pollution. Beneath the waters of the lake the corpses—women’s corpses—were laid out in rows. Their thin hands shook the reeds. Their pale faces rose at night to the surface, and stared at the moon. The autumn maples smeared the scene with infected blood; and the stone foxes in front of the shrine of Inari sneered and grinned at the devil world which their foul influence had called into being through the black witchcraft of lechery, avarice and disease.
THE AUTUMN FESTIVAL
Yo no naka ni Ushi no Kuruma no Nakari-seba, Omoi no iye wo Ikade ide-mashi?
In this world
If there were no
Ox-cart (i.e. Buddhist religion),
How should we escape
From the (burning) mansion of our thought?
During October, the whole family of the Fujinami removed from Tokyo for a few days in order to perform their religious duties at the temple of Ikegami. Even grandfather Gennosuke emerged from his dower-house, bringing his wife, O Tsugi. Mr. Fujinami Gentaro was in charge of his own wife, Shidzuye San, of Sadako and of Asako. Only Fujinami Takeshi, the son and heir, with his wife Matsuko, was absent.
There had been some further trouble in the family which had not been confided to Asako, but which necessitated urgent steps for the propitiation of religious influences. The Fujinami were followers of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. Their conspicuous devotion and their large gifts to the priests of the temple were held to be causes of their ever-increasing prosperity. The dead Fujinami, down from that great-great-grandfather who had first come to seek his fortune in Yedo, were buried at Ikegami. Here the priests gave to each hotoke (Buddha or dead person) his new name, which was inscribed on small black tablets, the ihai. One of these tablets for each dead person was kept in the household shrine at Tokyo, and one in the temple at Ikegami.