Genji Monogatari, by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, tr. Suematsu Kencho, , at sacred-texts.com
Genji well remembered the dream which he had dreamt at Suma, and in which his father, the late ex-Emperor, had made a faint allusion to his fallen state. He was always thinking of having solemn service performed for him, which might prove to be a remedy for evils.
He was now in the capital, and at liberty to do anything he wished. In October, therefore, he ordered the grand ceremony of Mihakkô to be performed for the repose of the dead. Meanwhile the respect of the public towards Genji had now returned to its former state, and he himself had become a distinguished personage in the capital. The Empress-mother, though indisposed, regretted she had not ruined Genji altogether; while the Emperor, who had not forgotten the injunction of the late ex-Emperor, felt satisfied with his recent disposition towards his half-brother, which he believed to be an act of goodness.
This he felt the more, because he noticed the improvement in his health continued from day to day, and he experienced a sensation of fresh vigor. He did not, however, believe he should be long on the throne, and when he found himself lonely, he often sent for Genji, and spent hours conversing with him, without any reserve, on public affairs.
In February of the next year the ceremony of the "Gem-buk" of the Heir-apparent, who was eleven years of age, was performed.
At the end of the same month the Emperor abdicated the throne in favor of the Heir-apparent, and his own son was made the Heir-apparent to the new Emperor.
The suddenness of these changes struck the Empress-mother with surprise, but she was told by her son that his abdication had been occasioned by his desire to enjoy quiet and repose.
The new reign opened with several changes in public affairs. Genji had been made Naidaijin. He filled this extra office of Daijin because there was no vacancy either in the Sadaijin or the Udaijin. He was to take an active part in the administration, but as he was not yet disposed to engage in the busy cares of official life, the ex-Sadaijin, his father-in-law, was solicited to become the regent for the young Emperor. He at first declined to accept the office, on the ground that he was advanced in age, that he had already retired from official life, and that the decline of his life left him insufficient energy. There was, however, an example in a foreign State, where some wise councillors, who resigned and had retired into the far-off mountains when their country was in a disturbed state, came forth from their retreat, with their snow-crowned heads, and took part in the administration of affairs. Nor was it an unusual thing for a statesman who had retired from political scenes to assume again a place under another government.
So the ex-Sadaijin did not persist in his refusal, but finally accepted the post of Dajiôdaijin (the Premier). He was now sixty-three years of age. His former retirement had taken place more on account of his disgust with the world than from his indisposition, and hence, when he accepted his new post, he at once showed how capable he was of being a responsible Minister. Tô-no-Chiûjiô, his eldest son, was also made the Gon-Chiûnagon. His daughter by his wife, the fourth daughter of Udaijin, was now twelve years old, and was shortly expected to be presented at Court; while his son, who had sung the "high sand" at a summer-day reunion at Genji's mansion, received a title. The young Genji too, the son of the late Lady Aoi, was admitted to the Court of the Emperor and of the Heir-apparent.
The attendants who faithfully served the young Genji, and those in the mansion at Nijiô, had all received a satisfactory token of appreciation from Genji, who now began to have a mansion repaired, which was situated to the east of the one in which he resided, and which had formerly belonged to his father. This he did with a notion of placing there some of his intimate friends, such as the younger one of the ladies in the "Villa of Falling Flowers."
Now the young maiden also, whom Genji had left behind at Akashi, and who had been in delicate health, did not pass away
from his thoughts. He despatched a messenger there on the first of March, as he deemed the happy event would take place about that time. When the messenger returned, he reported that she was safely delivered of a girl on the sixteenth of the month.
He remembered the prediction of an astrologer who had told him that an Emperor would be born to him, and another son who would eventually become a Dajiôdaijin. He also remembered that a daughter, who would be afterwards an Empress, would be also born to him, by a lady inferior to the mothers of the other two children. When he reflected on this prediction and on the series of events, he began thinking of the remarkable coincidences they betrayed; and as he thought of sending for her, as soon as the condition of the young mother's health would admit, he hurried forward the repairs of the eastern mansion. He also thought that as there might not be a suitable nurse at Akashi for the child, he ought to send one from the capital. Fortunately there was a lady there who had lately been delivered of a child. Her mother, who had waited at Court when the late ex-Emperor lived, and her father, who had been some time Court Chamberlain, were both dead. She was now in miserable circumstances. Genji sounded her, through a certain channel, whether she would not be willing to be useful to him. This offer on his part she accepted without much hesitation, and was despatched with a confidential servant to attend on the new-born child. He also sent with her a sword and other presents. She left the capital in a carriage, and proceeded by boat to the province of Settsu, and thence on horseback to Akashi.
When she arrived the priest was intensely delighted, and the young mother, who had been gradually improving in health, felt great consolation. The child was very healthy, and the nurse at once began to discharge her duties most faithfully.
Hitherto Genji did not confide the story of his relations with the maiden of Akashi to Violet, but he thought he had better do so, as the matter might naturally reach her ears. He now, therefore, informed her of all the circumstances, and of the birth of the child, saying, "If you feel any unpleasantness about the matter, I cannot blame you in any way. It was not the blessing which I desired. How greatly do I regret that in
the quarter where I wished to see the heavenly gift, there is none, but see it in another, where there was no expectation. The child is merely a girl too, and I almost think that I need pay no further attention. But this would make me heartless towards my undoubted offspring. I shall send for it and show it to you, and hope you will be generous to her. Can you assure me you will be so?" At these words Violet's face became red as crimson, but she did not lose her temper, and quietly replied:
"Your saying this only makes me contemptible to myself, as I think my generosity may not yet be fully understood; but I should like to know when and where I could have learnt to be ungenerous."
"These words sound too hard to me," said he. "How can you be so cruel to me? Pray don't attribute any blame to me; I never thought of it. How miserable am I!" And he began to drop tears when he came to reflect how faithful she had been all the time, and how affectionate, and also how regular had been her correspondence. He felt sorry for her, and continued, "In my anxious thoughts about this child, I have some intentions which may be agreeable to you also, only I will not tell you too hastily, since, if I do so now, they might not be taken in a favorable light. The attractions of the mother seem only to have arisen from the position in which she was placed. You must not think of the matter too seriously." He then briefly sketched her character and her skill in music. But on the part of Violet she could not but think that it was cruel to her to give away part of his heart, while her thoughts were with no one but him, and she was quite cast down for some time.
Genji tried to console her. He took up a kin and asked her to play and sing with him; but she did not touch it, saying that she could not play it so well as the maiden of Akashi. This very manner of her mild jealousy made her more captivating to him, and without further remarks the subject was dropped.
The fifth of May was the fiftieth day of the birth of the child, so Genji sent a messenger to Akashi a few days before the time when he would be expected. At Akashi the feast for the occasion was arranged with great pains, and the arrival of Genii's messenger was most opportune.
Let us now relate something about the Princess Wistaria.—Though she had become a nun, her title of ex-Empress had
never been lost; and now the change in the reigning sovereign gave her fresh honors. She had been recognized as equivalent to an Empress-regnant who had abdicated. A liberal allowance was granted to her, and a becoming household was established for her private use. She, however, still continued her devotion to religion, now and then coming to Court to see her son, where she was received with all cordiality; so that her rival, the mother of the ex-Emperor, whose influence was overwhelming till lately, now began to feel like one to whom the world had become irksome.
In the meantime, public affairs entirely changed their aspects, and the world seemed at this time to have been divided between the Dajiôdaijin and his son-in-law, Genji, by whose influence all things in public were swayed.
In August, of this year, the daughter of Gon-Chiûnagon (formerly Tô-no-Chiûjiô) was introduced at Court. She took up her abode in the Kokiden, which had been formerly occupied by her maternal aunt, and she was also styled from this time the Niogo of Kokiden. Prince Hiôb-Kiô had also the intention of introducing his second daughter at Court, but Genji took no interest in this. What will he eventually do about this matter?
In the same autumn Genji went to the Temple of Sumiyoshi to fulfil his vows. His party consisted of many young nobles and Court retainers, besides his own private attendants.
By a coincidence the maiden of Akashi, who had been prevented from coming to the Temple since the last year, happened to arrive there on the same day. Her party travelled in a boat, and when it reached the beach they saw the procession of Genji's party crossing before them. They did not know what procession it was, and asked the bystanders about it, who, in return, asked them sarcastically, "Can there be anyone who does not know of the coming of Naidaijin, the Prince Genji, here to-day to fulfil his vows?"
Most of the young nobles were on horseback, with beautifully made saddles; and others, including Ukon-no-Jiô, Yoshikiyo, and Koremitz, in fine uniforms of different colors (blue, green, or scarlet), according to their different ranks, formed the procession, contrasting with the hue of the range of pine-trees on both sides of the road.
Genji was in a carriage, which was followed by ten boy
pages, granted by the Court in the same way as a late Sadaijin, Kawara, had been honored. They were dressed in admirable taste, and their hair was twisted up in the form of a double knot, with ribbons of gorgeous purple. The young Genji was also in the procession on horseback, and followed the carriage.
The maiden of Akashi witnessed the procession, but she avoided making herself known. She thought she had better not go up to the Temple on that day; but she could not sail back to Akashi, so she had her boat moored in the bay of Naniwa for the night. As to Genji, he knew nothing of the maiden being a spectator of the procession, and spent the whole night in the Temple with his party in performing services which might please the God. It was then that he was informed by Koremitz that he had seen the maiden of Akashi in a boat. On the morrow Genji and his party set off for their homes. As they proceeded Genji hummed,
and he stopped, while contemplating the bay. Koremitz, who stood beside him, and divined what he was thinking about, took out a small pen from his pocket and presented it to Genji, who took it and wrote the following on a piece of paper, which he sent to the maiden by one of his attendants who knew her whereabouts
A few words more. The change of the ruler had brought a change of the Saigû; and the Lady of Rokjiô, with her daughter, returned to the capital. Her health, however, began to fail, and she became a nun, and after some time died. Before her death Genji visited her, and with her last breath she consigned her daughter to his care. Genji was thinking, therefore, of introducing her at Court at some future time.
201:1 A line of an old ode about the beacon in the bay of Naniwa, at the same time expressing the desire of meeting with a loved one. It is impossible to translate this ode literally, as in the original there is a play upon words, the word beacon (in Japanese) also meaning "enthusiastic endeavor." the word "myo-tzkushi" (= beacon) more properly means "water-marker" though disused in the modern Japanese. In the translation a little liberty has been taken.