Read The Golden Country Online

Authors: Shusaku Endo

The Golden Country (7 page)

BOOK: The Golden Country
9.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

GENNOSUKE: Please wait a moment, sir. Inoue-dono will be in shortly.

TOMONAGA: He sent word that he had something special to talk over with me. You don't happen to know what it is, do you?

GENNOSUKE: No, I have no idea.

TOMONAGA
(pointing to an hourglass):
That's a most unusual piece, isn't it?

GENNOSUKE: It's an hourglass given to Inoue-dono by the Dutch traders in Dejima.

Gennosuke bows and prepares to retire.

TOMONAGA: Gennosuke.

GENNOSUKE: Yes.

TOMONAGA: You've really made good.

GENNOSUKE: Thank you, sir. But why do you say this now? You've been observing me all along.

TOMONAGA: The old days suddenly came to mind. Your mother must be happy at your success.

GENNOSUKE: You've all helped me to achieve it.

TOMONAGA: Gennosuke, success is very important for a samurai. But there is something else of importance-virtue. Just as a woman, a samurai too must have a virtuous heart. Don't forget that.

GENNOSUKE: No, sir, I won't.

Gennosuke retires. Tomonaga sits with his eyes fixed on the floor, deep in thought. Hirata enters from the garden.

HIRATA: Oh, it's you.

TOMONAGA: Hirata-dono.

HIRATA: Have you seen Inoue yet?

TOMONAGA: No. What does he want to see me about?

HIRATA
(feigning ignorance):
Could it be about your daughter again?

Gennosuke, who has just entered with tea, perks up his ears.

TOMONAGA: But we declined the proposal on the last occasion.

HIRATA: This is a different matter.... She's as pretty as a flower. No wonder that Lord Omura is taken with her.

TOMONAGA: Lord Omura?

HIRATA: What, haven't you heard?

TOMONAGA: I've heard nothing.

HIRATA: Then I shouldn't be telling you this since Inoue hasn't said anything to you yet... but I'm very envious of you.

TOMONAGA: What's this all about?

HIRATA: Very well, I'll tell you. But promise not to let on to Inoue that I said anything. He'd be furious with me.

TOMONAGA: I promise.

HIRATA: You know, I think, that one of the chief samurai of the Omura clan, Omura Ietada, came here secretly the other day.

TOMONAGA: Yes. I was formerly a retainer of the Omuras, so I came to pay my respects.

HIRATA
(keeping Tomonaga in suspense):
That's a very unusual clock isn't it? It's an hourglass sent over by the Dutch traders.

TOMONAGA: Hirata ...

HIRATA: One of the chief samurai of the clan came secretly to consult Inoue about Lord Omura Suminaga.

TOMONAGA: Is that so?

HIRATA: Lord Omura lost his first wife last year and is greatly disadvantaged without her. He asked Inoue to find someone to take her place.

TOMONAGA: You can't mean that Yuki...

HIRATA: Exactly. Inoue feels that you cannot be happy giving your daughter to a house of as low a rank as Gennosuke's and that you wouldn't decline to send her to Omura Castle, since you were once a retainer there. He spoke of this to me this morning.

TOMONAGA: I could never accept.

HIRATA: Why do you say that?

TOMONAGA: Yuki... is still a young girl. She could never fill such an important position.

HIRATA: Do you mean to say that you find it distasteful to send your daughter to the house of your former lord? Do you reject Inoue's plans?

TOMONAGA: To take care of Lord Omura, you say? In other words, to do him service in the night. Isn't that it? More properly called, a concubine. That's against the proper way of man and woman.

HIRATA: Aren't you somewhat exaggerating? What you're saying, then, as I understand it, is that unless your daughter becomes Omura's legal wife, you will not give her to him. You'd better consider your social standing.

Gennosuke, who has overheard the conversation, hurries out of the room.

HIRATA: The way of man and woman, you say. This sounds like Christian talk to me.

TOMONAGA: Hirata.

Without reflection he lays his hand on his sword.

TOMONAGA: What are you saying? Are you in your right mind?

Inoue enters, pretending not to see what is happening.

INOUE: Is it you, Tomonaga? I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. Hirata, I've something personal to discuss with Tomonaga.

HIRATA: Excuse me.

He bows and leaves.

INOUE: How are you?

TOMONAGA: The fact is that Hirata. ...No, it's nothing.

INOUE
(looking closely at Tomonaga):
Are you sure?

TOMONAGA
(trying to change the subject):
Is this an hourglass?

INOUE: Yes. I received it from the Dutch tradesman, Luhmer. Is this the first time you've seen one?

TOMONAGA: No. I saw one once in Hirado.

INOUE: I have something still more interesting.

He brings out a telescope, a pistol, and
other objects, and shows them to him.

INOUE
(claps his hands, and Gennosuke appears):
Gennosuke, bring the cakes from Portugal.

GENNOSUKE: Yes, sir.

INOUE: This is a telescope. It's the best one I've ever had in my hands.

Tomonaga looks at it.

INOUE: No, the other way. From that end everything looks smaller.

Gennosuke brings in tea and
castella.

INOUE: Gennosuke, what's wrong? Your hand is shaking.

Gennosuke doesn't answer.

INOUE:
(laughing):
You may go. Today, strangely enough, everyone seems to be on edge.... This is what is called
castella.
Try it. Please help yourself.

Tomonaga pulls off the paper wrapper
and takes a bite.

TOMONAGA: So this is
castella.

Inoue brings out a large painting of Christ.

TOMONAGA: Oh, are there still things like this around?

INOUE: This is a fine piece of work. It's a European painting which several generations of Christians in Yamaguchi have kept in secret. It's irreplaceable as far as they're concerned. The story is that Francis Xavier gave it to them as a keepsake when he left Japan. Take it in your hands. It's rather heavy.

Tomonaga takes it. Inoue keeps his eyes fixed on him.

INOUE: Isn't it heavy?

TOMONAGA: What did you say?

INOUE: I asked if it was heavy.

TOMONAGA: No, not in the least.

INOUE: Is that right? You were once a Christian. Isn't this Christ heavy to your hands and to your heart?

TOMONAGA: I've forgotten it long ago—that heaviness you mention.

INOUE: Of course, of course. Were it otherwise, you'd hardly be able to work here to persecute the Christians, would you?

TOMONAGA: You were also a Christian. And your knowledge of Christianity has stood you in good stead. You've been able to make the Christians reject their faith one by one. Until you came they'd been able to withstand all torture.

INOUE: But there are still priests at large that I haven't been able to catch. For instance, Father Kibe and Father Ferreira. But I'll get them too someday.

TOMONAGA
(in a challenging tone):
This is a matter of some importance to you, isn't it?

INOUE: Yes, it is. Of great importance.

He laughs.

INOUE: But tell me, Tomonaga, why did you throw over Christianity?

TOMONAGA: Would it have been better if I hadn't? If I hadn't done so, by now I'd have been called before the bureau and strictly examined by you.

He raises his voice in a laugh.

TOMONAGA: But what was your reason for rejecting Christianity?

INOUE: Why did I reject Christianity? Because I came to see that the teachings of Christ could never take root in Japanese soil.

TOMONAGA: It's hardly that they can't take root. Isn't it rather that since Hideyoshi's time we've been systematically uprooting them?

INOUE: Certainly it's as you say. Since Hideyoshi we've been uprooting whatever came to our attention. Even now I'm busy at that work. But I had a slightly different purpose.

TOMONAGA: Do you take pleasure in your work?

INOUE: I can't say that there isn't some pleasure in injuring a woman that one has madly loved. And I was once completely enraptured with the teaching of Christ. But I am not pulling out living shoots. It's because I do not think these shoots will thrive on Japanese soil that I uproot them.

TOMONAGA: You don't think that the teaching of Christ suits the Japanese soil?

INOUE: It isn't that the Christian shoots are bad in themselves. Nor is this country of Japan bad. That much even I will agree to. But when a certain plant will not grow in a certain soil, no matter what means are used, then even the most stupid of farmers will know enough to either change the soil or pull up the plants. But the soil is this Japan of ours. There's no way of changing it. That being the case, there is no choice but to pull up the plants.

TOMONAGA: But at one time the plants grew nicely. There was a time when even in Japan there were as many as two hundred thousand Christians, and churches were standing not only here in Kyushu, but also in the Chugoku and Kamigata areas.

INOUE: The plants were not growing. They only seemed to be. They didn't blossom. They only seemed to do so. Don't you see that? Sometimes I get to dislike this country of ours. Or, more than dislike, to fear it. It's a mudswamp much more frightening than what the Christians call hell—this Japan. No matter what shoots one tries to transplant here from another country, they all wither and die, or else bear a flower and fruit that only resemble the real ones.

TOMONAGA: This Japan was the dream country of the East to the European priests and traders. They even called it the golden country.

INOUE: The golden country? Its natives are more spirited and intelligent than those of all other non-Christian countries. Who was it that said that?

TOMONAGA: It was St. Francis Xavier.

INOUE: That was only a self-deluding dream, and they tried to force this dream upon Japan. The golden country? This mudswamp? They considered this sterile land that can't support a single healthy shoot—they considered this a fertile field? They tried to plant here the shoots of God. But in this mudswamp called Japan God's shoots would not grow. Long ago I also became a convert to Christ. But I was little by little betrayed by this mudswamp.... A moment ago, didn't you say
Saint
Francis Xavier?

TOMONAGA: From old custom. It just slipped out.

INOUE: Words that just slip out generally manifest a person's true feelings. Being in the employ of the bureau, you must surely know that.... At least, that's what Hirata would say. But what do you think of this painting?

TOMONAGA: What shall I say? I don't want to be taken to task for another slip of the tongue. Shall I say only that it's a fine piece of work and leave it at that?

He laughs.

INOUE: I wonder if Christ had a face like this.

TOMONAGA: I don't know. But all the paintings brought over by the Fathers have this same kind of face.

INOUE: Long ago when I was a Christian, I once asked one of the Fathers about the face of Christ. He told me that even in the Scriptures there was nothing written about it. In other words, this face must have been imagined by those who came later.

TOMONAGA: I don't know.

INOUE: Yes, it must have been imagined. It's a face made up of man's petitions, his griefs, his joys, his dreams over a period of many years. Just as the face of Buddha is a face made up of the poor farmers' fantasies, this face of Christ embodies all the dreams of the Christians. To a woman, it is the most beautiful masculine face; to a
man—just look. Such tranquillity, such strength, such reserve!

TOMONAGA: Is that so? Such a painting no longer has any meaning for me. It's like a gold coin to a cat. No matter what kind of face it is.

INOUE: What if we should ask the Christians to step on this face?

TOMONAGA: I don't understand.

INOUE: If we ask them to stamp on this picture with their feet?

Tomonaga looks down in silence.

INOUE: Is there any man that would step on the face of the woman he loved when told to do so? Not a one. Similarly, is there any Christian that would step on what is for him the most beautiful, the most precious face in the world?

BOOK: The Golden Country
9.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Piercing the Darkness by Peretti, Frank
Samurai and Other Stories by William Meikle
Murder in Paradise by Alanna Knight
The Steel Wave by Jeff Shaara
Gold Digger by Frances Fyfield
Forbidden Indulgences by Terry Towers