Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/227

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One sultry afternoon, while the widow and her son were watching at his bedside, Takahama fell asleep. At the same moment a very large white butterfly entered the room, and perched upon the sick man's pillow. The nephew drove it away with a fan; but it returned immediately to the pillow, and was again driven away, only to come back a third time. Then the nephew chased it into the garden, and across the garden, through an open gate, into the cemetery of the neighboring temple. But it continued to flutter before him as if unwilling to be driven further, and acted so queerly that he began to wonder whether it was really a butterfly, or a ma.[1] He again chased it, and followed it far into the cemetery, until he saw it fly against a tomb,—a woman's tomb. There it unaccountably disappeared; and he searched for it in vain. He then examined the monument. It bore the personal name " Akiko," together with an unfamiliar family name, and an inscription stating that Akiko had died at the age of eighteen. Apparently the tomb had been erected about fifty years previously: moss had begun to gather upon it. But it had been well cared for: there were fresh flowers before it; and the water-tank had recently been filled.

On returning to the sick room, the

  1. An evil spirit.