Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/103

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Do not cry, I implore you! — only tell me how I may be of some help to you!” Slowly she rose up, but turned her back to him, and continued to moan and sob behind her sleeve. He laid his hand lightly upon her shoulder, and pleaded : — “ O-jochū! — O-jochū! — O-jochū! . . . Listen to me, just for one little moment!. . . O-jochū! — O-jochū!” . . . Then that O-jochū turned round, and dropped her sleeve, and stroked her face with her hand; — and the man saw that she had no eyes or nose or mouth, —and he screamed and ran away.

Up Kii-no-kuni-zaka he ran and ran; and all was black and empty before him. On and on he ran, never daring to look back; and at last he saw a lantern, so far away that it looked like the gleam of a firefly ; and he made for it. It proved to be only the lantern of an itinerant soba-seller,[1] who had set down his stand by the road-side; but any light and any human companionship was good after that experience; and he flung himself down at the feet of the soba-seller, crying out, “Aa!—aa!! —aa!!!”. . .

Koré! Koré!” roughly exclaimed the soba-man. “Here! what is the matter with you? Anybody hurt you?”

  1. Soba is a preparation of buckwheat, somewhat resembling vermicelli.