Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/112

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always been a woodcutter. Perhaps you formerly belonged to one of the upper classes?”

Smiling, the woodcutter answered:—

"Sir, you are not mistaken. Though now living as you find me, I was once a person of some distinction. My story is the story of a ruined life--ruined by my own fault. I used to be in the service of a daimyō; and my rank in that service was not inconsiderable. But I loved women and wine too well; and under the influence of passion I acted wickedly. My selfishness brought about the ruin of our house, and caused the death of many persons. Retribution followed me; and I long remained a fugitive in the land. Now I often pray that I may be able to make some atonement for the evil which I did, and to reëstablish the ancestral home. But I fear that I shall never find any way of so doing. Nevertheless, I try to overcome the karma of my errors by sincere repentance, and by helping as afar as I can, those who are unfortunate."

Kwairyō was pleased by this announcement of good resolve; and he said to the aruji:—

“My friend, I have had occasion to observe that men, prone to folly in their youth, may in after years become very earnest in right living. In the holy sûtras it is written that those