Page:Kwaidan; Stories and Studies of Strange Things - Hearn - 1904.djvu/96

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Know, reverend Sir, that I am a jikininki[1], — an eater of human flesh. Have pity upon me, and suffer me to confess the secret fault by which I became reduced to this condition.

"A long, long time ago, I was a priest in this desolate region. There was no other priest for many leagues around. So, in that time, the bodies of the mountain-folk who died used to be brought here,— sometimes from great distances, — in order that I might repeat over them the holy service. But I repeated the service and performed the rites only as a matter of business;— I thought only of the food and the clothes that my sacred profession enabled me to gain. And because of this selfish impiety I was reborn, immediately after my death, into the state of a jikininki. Since then I have been obliged to feed upon the corpses of the people who die in this district: every one of them I must devour in the way that you saw last night. . . . Now, reverend Sir, let me beseech you to perform a Ségaki-service[2] for me: help me by

  1. Literally, a man-eating goblin. The Japanese narrator gives also the Sanscrit term, “Râkshasa;” but this word is quite as vague as jikininki, since there are many kinds of Râkshasas. Apparently the word jikininki signifies here one of the Baramon-Rasetsu-Gaki,—forming the twenty-sixth class of pretas enumerated in the old Buddhist books.
  2. A Ségaki-service is a special Buddhist service performed on behalf of beings supposed to have entered into the con-