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Authors: Shusaku Endo

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BOOK: The Golden Country
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He brings out the painting that Hirata has just given him.

FERREIRA: Is this the way Christ looked when you stepped on him?

KASUKE
(looking at it carefully, then shaking his head):
No, this wasn't the face I stepped on.

FERREIRA: This wasn't the face. Is that right? You're of the same opinion, then? The face of Christ that day was not a beautiful and noble face such as this.

Ferreira brings out another picture of Christ's face. It is the emaciated, exhausted face of Christ on the cross.

KASUKE: Yes, yes, it was this face. Who painted it?

FERREIRA: I did.

KASUKE: You?

FERREIRA: To me Christ is no longer the Christ of the beautiful and noble face, but rather this Christ. Yuki that day told Gennosuke to go ahead and step on her face. Wasn't that touching? To save the man she loves, even a young girl will beg him to stamp on her. Those words were words of love. Even young lovers will sacrifice themselves for each other. Do you understand?

KASUKE: Understand what?

FERREIRA: I see that you don't. If Christ really loves us, Kasuke, then he knows our weakness. He knows how much pain you felt, he knows how we suffered in stamping on the
fumi-e.
And like Yuki that day his voice too was full of pity and tearful compassion as he whispered to us.

KASUKE: He whispered to us?

FERREIRA: Yes, yes. The Christ in the
fumi-e
bade us in tears: "Stamp on me. Stamp on me. It is for this that I exist—to be stepped on by suffering mankind, to take upon myself the pain of men's legs as they step upon me. I am in pain. But so are you. If that is so, then it's all right for you to stamp on me." This is how he spoke—just exactly as Yuki spoke.

KASUKE: It can't be. It can't be.

FERREIRA: It is. It is. It was for this that Christ shouldered his cross.

KASUKE: It can't be. It can't be.

FERREIRA: A long time ago you came to me with a problem. It was about something Christ said at the Last Supper. That night as he was seated at dinner with his twelve apostles, he turned to Judas and said: "One of you is about to betray me. Be quick on your errand." Judas rose immediately and left the room. It was already dark. Why did Christ dismiss Judas so coldly, you wanted to know.

KASUKE: Yes.

FERREIRA: Now I understand. I once thought there was hatred and anger mixed with love in those words. But as I sat here by myself in front of this painting, I came to understand that his words contained sadness and love, that he whispered them with eyes moist with love and sadness at man's weakness. He told Judas exactly what he told me: stamp, stamp on my face. Betray me. It must have been painful for Judas to betray his master. That pain Christ was better aware of than anyone else. And so he told Judas to be quick on his errand. I will
carry the cross in your place. That's what he must have said.

KASUKE
(frightened by Ferreira's expression, he moves backward):
No, no, that's impossible.

He leaves the room as if about to burst into tears.

FERREIRA: That's how it was. Twenty-five years I've been in Japan. It's taken me twenty-five years to learn this. I was hung in the pit, I stepped on the fumi-e, and I apostatized. But, Lord, I have not abandoned your face. No, instead I have found a face different from the one I knew in the past.

INOUE
(his voice only):
You're wrong. Stop deceiving yourself.

Ferreira, surprised, opens the sliding doors.

FERREIRA: Who is it?

INOUE
(showing himself):
Father... no, you are no longer "Father." Sawano Chuan is your name now. Sawano, stop deceiving yourself. You just said that you'd never abandon the face of Christ.

He laughs.

INOUE: But you've abandoned the Christians. And those Christian farmers you've abandoned have made their own decisions.

FERREIRA: Those farmers are now at last in Paradise, and Our Lord himself is binding their wounds and gently wiping from their eyes the tears they shed in this world. But my blood has also flowed. Only the Lord knows.

INOUE: In the end you were overcome by Japan, weren't you?

FERREIRA: What do you mean?

INOUE: I don't know whether you really believe what you're saying or are only trying to cover up your weakness. I don't know. But I do know that your words are not those of a Christian. They are not the words of a man who was once a priest. You may be able to deceive others, but you can't deceive me. Isn't what you are saying the very thing that the other priests branded as false?

Ferreira covers his face with his hands.

INOUE: When I was young, I put this question to one of the Fathers. In Japan, I said, we believe in the mercy of Amida. The Christians believe in the mercy of God. The mercy of Amida, we are taught in Japan, is our salvation from our weakness. We have but to cling to Amida. But the Father answered clearly: that is a different mercy from the mercy of the God of the Christians.

He is gradually placing more and more emphasis on his words.

INOUE: Christian salvation is not a mere clinging to the mercy of God. The Christian must fight as hard as he can, and then his strength of spirit and the love and mercy of God come together. This is salvation. Isn't that true, Sawano?

Ferreira again covers his face with his hands.

INOUE: I think that you are just bending the teachings of Christ to suit your weakness, trying to disguise your
misery even from yourself. Isn't that what is behind your words?

Ferreira collapses.

INOUE
(speaking gently):
I can appreciate how you feel. When it comes right down to it, it wasn't by me that you were vanquished, but by this mudswamp called Japan. But the swamp too has its good qualities. If you will only give yourself over to it, you'll eventually grow accustomed to the comfortable warmth of the swamp. The doctrine of Christ is like a flame. Like a flame it sets a man on fire. But the tepid warmth of Japan will eventually nurture gentle sleep.

FERREIRA: I'm afraid I'll never experience that. I'm no longer a Portuguese. Yet I can never become a Japanese. I'm not a Christian, nor do I oppose the Christians. I'm just a living corpse.

INOUE: There's only one way for that corpse to come back to life again.

He lowers his voice.

INOUE: You must
hate.
You must hate Christianity which has brought you to this pass.

FERREIRA: What are you proposing to me? Are you asking me to work for you at the bureau?

INOUE: You are not Hirata. I don't ask such work from you. All I want you to do is write. I want you to write books against Christianity, books that will give vent to your hatred of Christianity.

FERREIRA
(silent for a while, and then):
Is it for you that I do this?

INOUE: You may think so. But it will also be for yourself.

FERREIRA
(in a low voice):
How far am I still to fall?
An official enters.

OFFICIAL: I bring a report on the Christians. When the sun went down, the tide came in. The stakes to which we tied them are now under water.

INOUE: Completely under water?

OFFICIAL: When I left, they were in water to their necks. Seven black heads that seemed to float on the waves.

INOUE
(as if in pain):
Were they dead?

OFFICIAL: I think they were.

FERREIRA: O Lord!

The sky gradually grows red. The hymn "We're on our way to Paradise" can be heard. Hirata, excited, rushes onstage.

HIRATA: Sir.

INOUE: What's the trouble?

HIRATA: A rider has just come in from Fukuoka with a message.

INOUE: What's the message?

HIRATA: Four Christian priests have just landed in Amami O-shima. They came over in a small boat rowed by Chinese and managed to land under cover of night.

CURTAIN

BOOK: The Golden Country
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