Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/159

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a little unwell, my dear one! … lie down for a while, and rest; and the sickness will pass." …

" No, no! " she responded—" I am dying!—I do not imagine it;—I know! … And it were needless now, my dear husband, to hide the truth from you any longer:—I am not a human being. The soul of a tree is my soul;—the heart of a tree is my heart;—the sap of the willow is my life. And some one, at this cruel moment, is cutting down my tree;—that is why I must die! … Even to weep were now beyond my strength!—quickly, quickly repeat the Nembutsu for me … quickly! … Ah! " …

With another cry of pain she turned aside her beautiful head, and tried to hide her face behind her sleeve. But almost in the same moment her whole form appeared to collapse in the strangest way, and to sink down, down, down—level with the floor. Tomotada had sprung to support her;—but there was nothing to support! There lay on the matting only the empty robes of the fair creature and the ornaments that she had worn in her hair: the body had ceased to exist. …

Tomotada shaved his head, took the

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