(SNOW ON THE BAMBOOS)
TSUKIWAKA (his son by the first wife).
HIS FIRST WIFE.
HIS SECOND WIFE.
My name is Tono-i. I live in the land of Echigo. I had a wife; but for a trifling reason I parted from her and put her to live in the House of the Tall Pines, which is not far distant from here. We had two children; and the girl I sent to live with her mother at the House of the Tall Pines, but the boy, Tsukiwaka, I have here with me, to be the heir of all my fortune.
And this being done, I brought a new wife to my home. Now it happens that in pursuance of a binding vow I must be absent for a while on pilgrimage to a place not far away. I will now give orders for the care of Tsukiwaka, my son. Is my wife there?
What is it?
I called you to tell you this: in pursuance of a vow I must be absent on pilgrimage for two or three days. While I am away, I beg you to tend my child Tsukiwaka with loving care. Moreover I must tell you that the snow falls very thick in these parts, and when it piles up upon the bamboos that grow along the four walls of the yard, it weighs them down and breaks them to bits.
I don't know how it will be, but I fancy there is snow in the air now. If it should chance to fall, pray order my servants to brush it from the leaves of the bamboos.
What? A pilgrimage, is it? Why then go in peace, and a blessing on your journey. I will not forget about the snow on the bamboos. But as for Tsukiwaka, there was no need for you to speak. Do you suppose I would neglect him, however far away you went?
No, indeed. I spoke of it, because he is so very young. . . .
But now I must be starting on my journey. (He goes.)
Listen, Tsukiwaka! Your father has gone off on a pilgrimage. Before he went, he said something to me about you. "Tend Tsukiwaka with care," he said. There was no need for him to speak. You must have been telling him tales about me, saying I was not kind to you or the like of that. You are a bad boy. I am angry with you, very angry! (She turns away.)
TSUKIWAKA then runs to his mother at the House of the Tall Pines. A lyric scene follows in which TSUKIWAKA and his mother (the CHORUS aiding) bewail their lot.
Meanwhile the SECOND WIFE misses TSUKIWAKA.
Where is Tsukiwaka? What can have become of him? (She calls for a servant.) Where has Tsukiwaka gone off to?
I have not the least idea.
Why, of course! I have guessed. He took offence at what I said to him just now and has gone off as usual to the Tall Pines to blab to his mother. How tiresome! Go and tell him that his father has come home and has sent for him; bring him back with you.
I tremble and obey. (He goes to the "hashigakari" and speaks to TSUKIWAKA and the FIRST WIFE.) The master has come back and sent for you, Master Tsukiwaka! Come back quickly!
YŪYA READING THE LETTER
What? His father has sent for him? What a pity; he comes here so seldom. But if your father has sent for you, you must go to him. Come soon again to give your mother comfort!
(The SERVANT takes TSUKIWAKA back to the SECOND WIFE.)
Madam, I have brought back Master Tsukiwaka.
What does this mean, Tsukiwaka? Have you been blabbing again at the House of the Tall Pines? Listen! Your father told me before he went away that if it came on to snow, I was to tell some one to brush the snow off the bamboos round the four walls of the yard.
It is snowing very heavily now. So be quick and brush the snow off the bamboos. Come now, take off your coat and do it in your shirt-sleeves.
(The boy obeys. The CHORUS describes the "sweeping of the bamboos." It grows colder and colder.)
The wind stabbed him, and as the night wore on,
The snow grew hard with frost; he could not brush it away.
"I will go back," he thought, and pushed at the barred gate.
"Open!" he cried, and hammered with his frozen hands.
None heard him; his blows made no sound.
"Oh the cold, the cold! I cannot bear it.
Help, help for Tsukiwaka!"
Never blew wind more wildly!
(TSUKIWAKA falls dead upon the snow.)
The servant finds him there and goes to the House of the Tall Pines to inform the mother. A scene of lament follows in which mother, sister and chorus join. The father comes home and hears the sound of weeping. When he discovers the cause, he is reconciled with the first wife (the second wife is not mentioned again), and owing to their pious attitude, the child returns to life.