Tales of Old Japan eBook

Algernon Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron Redesdale
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 405 pages of information about Tales of Old Japan.
took charge of the house in his absence, was frightened by a fearful noise proceeding from a pond in the garden, and, thinking that this certainly must be the ghost that she had heard so much about, she covered her head with the bed-clothes and remained breathless with terror.  When her husband came home, she told him what had happened; and on the following night he returned earlier than usual, and waited for the ghostly noise.  At the same time as before, a little after midnight, the same sound was heard—­as though a gun had been fired inside the pond.  Opening the shutters, he looked out, and saw something like a black cloud floating on the water, and in the cloud was the form of a bald man.  Thinking that there must be some cause for this, he instituted careful inquiries, and learned that the former tenant, some ten years previously, had borrowed money from a blind shampooer,[71] and, being unable to pay the debt, had murdered his creditor, who began to press him for his money, and had thrown his head into the pond.  The fencing-master accordingly collected his pupils and emptied the pond, and found a skull at the bottom of it; so he called in a priest, and buried the skull in a temple, causing prayers to be offered up for the repose of the murdered man’s soul.  Thus the ghost was laid, and appeared no more.

[Footnote 71:  The apparently poor shaven-pated and blind shampooers of Japan drive a thriving trade as money-lenders.  They give out small sums at an interest of 20 per cent. per month—­210 per cent. per annum—­and woe betide the luckless wight who falls into their clutches.]

The belief in curses hanging over families for generations is as common as that in ghosts and supernatural apparitions.  There is a strange story of this nature in the house of Asai, belonging to the Hatamoto class.  The ancestor of the present representative, six generations ago, had a certain concubine, who was in love with a man who frequented the house, and wished in her heart to marry him; but, being a virtuous woman, she never thought of doing any evil deed.  But the wife of my lord Asai was jealous of the girl, and persuaded her husband that her rival in his affections had gone astray; when he heard this he was very angry, and beat her with a candlestick so that he put out her left eye.  The girl, who had indignantly protested her innocence, finding herself so cruelly handled, pronounced a curse against the house; upon which, her master, seizing the candlestick again, dashed out her brains and killed her.  Shortly afterwards my lord Asai lost his left eye, and fell sick and died; and from that time forth to this day, it is said that the representatives of the house have all lost their left eyes after the age of forty, and shortly afterwards they have fallen sick and died at the same age as the cruel lord who killed his concubine.

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Tales of Old Japan from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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