Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/200

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has not been mentioned by any Chinese writer. I mean the atmosphere of Hōrai. It is an atmosphere peculiar to the place ; and, because of it, the sunshine in Hōrai is whiter than any other sunshine, —a milky light that never dazzles, — astonishingly clear, but very soft. This atmosphere is not of our human period: it is enormously old, — so old that I feel afraid when I try to think how old it is;—and it is not a mixture of nitrogen and oxygen. It is not made of air at all, but of ghost, — the substance of quintillions of quintillions of generations of souls blended into one immense translucency, — souls of people who thought in ways never resembling our ways. Whatever mortal man inhales that atmosphere, he takes into his blood the thrilling of these spirits; and they change the senses within him, — reshaping his notions of Space and Time, — so that he can see only as they used to see, and feel only as they used to feel, and think only as they used to think. Soft as sleep are these changes of sense ; and Hōrai, discerned across them, might thus be described : —

Because in Hōrai there is no knowledge of great evil, the hearts of the people never grow old. And, by reason of being always young in heart, the people of Hōrai smile from birth