XI. THE INTERVIEW
One day Oguri-Hangwan left his residence to make a journey of inspection through the provinces of which he had been appointed ruler. And reaching Mino, he resolved to visit Kohagi of Hitachi, and to utter his thanks to her for her exceeding goodness.
Therefore he lodged at the house of Yorodzuya, where he was conducted to the finest of all the guest-chambers, which was made beautiful with screens of gold, with Chinese carpets, with Indian hangings, and with other precious things of great cost.
When the lord ordered Kohagi of Hitachi to be summoned to his presence, he was answered that she was only one of the lowest menials, and too dirty to appear before him. But he paid no heed to these words, only commanding that she should come at once, no matter how dirty she might be.
Therefore, much against her will, Kohagi was obliged to appear before the lord, whom she at first beheld through a screen, and saw that he so much like the Hangwan that she was greatly startled.
Oguri then asked her to tell him her real name; but Kohagi refused, saying: "If I may not serve my lord with wine, except on condition of telling my real name, then I can only leave the presence of my lord."
But as she was about to go, the Hangwan called to her: "Nay, stop a little while. I have a good reason to ask your name, because I am in truth that very gaki-ami whom you so kindly drew last year to Otsu in a cart."
And with these words he produced the wooden tablet upon which Kohagi had written.
Then she was greatly moved, and said: "I am very happy to see you thus recovered. And now I shall gladly tell you all my history; hoping only that you, my lord, will tell me something of that ghostly world from which you have come back, and in which my husband, alas, now dwells.
"I was born (it hurts my heart to speak of former times!) the only daughter of Yokoyama Choja, who dwelt in the district of Soba, in the province of Sagami, and my name was Terute-Hime.
"I remember too well, alas! having been wedded, three years ago, to a famous person of rank, whose name was Oguri-Hangwan Kane-uji, who used to live in the province of Hitachi. But my husband was poisoned by my father at the instigation of his own third son, Saburo.
"I myself was condemned by him to be drowned in the sea of Sagami. And I owe my present existence to the faithful servants of my father, Onio and Oniji."
Then the lord Hangwan said, "You see here before you, Terute, your husband, Kane-uji. Although killed together with my followers, I had been destined to live in this world many years longer.
"By the learned priest of Fujisawa temple I was saved, and, being provided with a cart, I was drawn by many kind persons to the hot springs of Kumano, where I was restored to my former health and shape. And now I have been appointed lord ruler of the three provinces, and can have all things that I desire."
Hearing this tale, Terute could scarcely believe it was not all a dream, and she wept for joy. Then she said: "Ah! since last I saw you, what hardships have I not passed through!
"For seven days and seven nights I was tossed about upon the sea in a canoe; then I was in a great danger in the bay of Nawoye, and was saved by a kind man called Murakami Deyu.
"And after that I was sold and bought seventy-five times; and the last time I was brought here, where I have been made to suffer all kinds of hardship only because I refused to become a joro. That is why you now see me in so wretched a condition."
Very angry was Kane-uji to hear of the cruel conduct of the inhuman Chobei, and desired to kill him at once.
But Terute besought her husband to spare the man's life, and so fulfilled the promise she had long before made to Chobei, - that she would give even her own life, if necessary, for her master and mistress, on condition of being allowed five days' freedom to draw the cart of the gaki-ami.
And for this Chobei was really grateful; and in compensation he presented the Hangwan with the hundred horses from his stable, and gave to Terute the thirty-six servants belonging to his house.
And then Terute-Hime, appropriately attired, went away with the Prince Kane-uji; and, they began their journey to Sagami with hearts full of joy.