Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/148

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unworthy of your presence, and although we have not any comfort to offer, perhaps it were safer to remain to-night under this miserable roof. … We would take good care of your horse."

Tomotada accepted this humble proposal,—secretly glad of the chance thus afforded him to see more of the young girl. Presently a coarse but ample meal was set before him; and the girl came from behind the screen, to serve the wine. She was now reclad, in a rough but cleanly robe of homespun; and her long, loose hair had been neatly combed and smoothed. As she bent forward to fill his cup, Tomotada was amazed to perceive that she was incomparably more beautiful than any woman whom he had ever before seen; and there was a grace about her every motion that astonished him. But the elders began to apologize for her, saying: " Sir, our daughter, Aoyagi,[1] has been brought up here, in the mountains, almost alone; and she knows nothing of gentle service. We pray that you will pardon her stupidity and her ignorance." Tomotada protested that he deemed himself lucky to be waited upon by so comely a maiden. He could not turn his eyes away from her—though he saw that his admiring

  1. The name signifies "Green Willow;"—though rarely met with, it is still in use.