Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/228

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young man was shocked by the announcement that his uncle had ceased to breathe. Death had come to the sleeper painlessly; and the dead face smiled.

The young man told his mother of what he had seen in the cemetery.

"Ah!" exclaimed the widow, "then it must have been Akiko ! " …

" But who was Akiko, mother? " the nephew asked.

The widow answered:—

" When your good uncle was young he was betrothed to a charming girl called Akiko, the daughter of a neighbor. Akiko died of consumption, only a little before the day appointed for the wedding; and her promised husband sorrowed greatly. After Akiko had been buried, he made a vow never to marry; and he built this little house beside the cemetery, so that he might be always near her grave. All this happened more than fifty years ago. And every day of those fifty years—winter and summer alike—your uncle went to the cemetery, and prayed at the grave, and swept the tomb, and set offerings before it. But he did not like to have any mention made of the matter; and he never spoke of it. … So, at last, Akiko came for him: the white butterfly was her soul."