Read The Golden Country Online

Authors: Shusaku Endo

The Golden Country (8 page)

BOOK: The Golden Country
6.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

TOMONAGA: But it's only a painting.

INOUE: Not at all. And because it is something more, I will make the Christians step on it. I have thought up this
fumi-e.
This is my revenge on those who don't realize that Japan is a mudswamp, or pretend to ignore the fact.

He laughs.

TOMONAGA: But it's only a painting. Even the Christians can distinguish between the real Christ and a painting of him. I think you underestimate their intelligence.

INOUE: No, that's not it. Even I, who have now renounced the Christian faith, would feel pain in stepping on this painting. Do you mean that you could step on it without feeling anything?

Tomonaga doesn't answer.

INOUE: It is only people like Hirata that could step on it and think nothing of it. What about you?

TOMONAGA: I think I could step on it without hesitation.

INOUE: Really? Then let's make a trial of it. Go ahead and step!

TOMONAGA: You want me to step on it? I gave up Christianity long ago. It should hardly be necessary for me to prove it to you. Besides, it wouldn't do to harm this painting.

He tries to change the subject.

TOMONAGA: By the way, just a minute ago Hirata mentioned something to me.

INOUE: Hirata? What did he say?

TOMONAGA: He spoke about my daughter.

INOUE: He can't keep anything to himself. Was it about the proposal from the Omuras?

TOMONAGA: Yes.

INOUE: The argument I overheard as I entered the room-was it about that?

TOMONAGA: Yes, forgive me.

INOUE: Don't worry about it. If you are against the match, I'll tell the Omuras myself.

TOMONAGA: Then please do. My daughter is just a young girl and could hardly fulfill such a function.

INOUE: There's just one problem, Tomonaga. Should you refuse this offer, unpleasant rumors will get started. That's what I'm worried about. You're a former retainer of Lord Omura. People will surely say that the only reason why despite your former connection with the
Omuras you refuse to give your daughter to them is that you are a Christian. That's not my opinion, you understand. That's not my opinion, but if there gets to be too much talk, it will be unpleasant for both of us.

TOMONAGA: Is there such a rumor circulating about me?

INOUE: I can't say that there isn't. It has even reached my ears. Sometimes there are even great exaggerations, such as that you are hiding Father Ferreira.

TOMONAGA
(laughing):
All talk without any foundation!

INOUE: Is that so? That may be, but I should like to have you prove clearly to the members of the bureau that you've indeed renounced Christianity.

He claps his hands.

GENNOSUKE: Did you call, sir?

INOUE: Please call Hirata-dono.

HIRATA
(enters with a guard):
I'm here.

INOUE: Hirata, if Tomonaga steps on this painting before your eyes, will you let go of your suspicions? He says he'll step on it. Tomonaga, please go ahead.

TOMONAGA: Why?

INOUE: For my sake. When you step on it, your legs will certainly hurt. My heart will also hurt. But the seed of Christianity will not grow in Japanese soil. Be aware of this.

HIRATA: How about it, Tomonaga? If you've really abandoned Christianity, then it won't be difficult for you to step on the painting. But even should he step on it, I wouldn't stop being suspicious.

He claps his hands. Tome enters.

HIRATA: Tome, tell us what happened the other day. What did the girl Hatsu tell you Yuki had said?

TOME: Yuki said that she was in love with Gennosuke. She hadn't wished to refuse his proposal of marriage, but there were unavoidable circumstances. That's what Hatsu said. I asked her again and again what those circumstances were. At first she didn't say anything.

HIRATA: At first she wouldn't tell you?

TOME: Then she told me. Yuki is a Christian.

Silence falls upon the group.

TOMONAGA: Yuki? It's not her fault. I knew that sometime this moment would come. Sooner or later it was bound to come to this. Inoue-dono, you said just now that the seed would not grow, in this mudswamp called Japan. But I, just like the Fathers, believe that Japan is the golden country.

INOUE: Then you won't step on the painting?

TOMONAGA: No, I won't.

He makes the sign of the cross before the painting.

TOMONAGA: I am a Christian.

HIRATA: Where is Ferreira hiding?

TOMONAGA: I don't know. What will you do to me?

INOUE
(sadly):
Why did you have to be so foolish? Why did you have to admit that you were a Christian? Why do you have to die? Just because you die a martyr's death, this country of Japan will not change. A mudswamp is for all time a mudswamp.

TOMONAGA: If it's a mudswamp, then our deaths will be the fertilizer that will make it fruitful.

INOUE: Do you really believe that? I'm willing to make a wager. You may die today, I sometime later. After the passage of many years the Fathers may once again return to this country. But even then, I wager that what the Christians call the seed of God will not grow in this country. Hirata, take him away. Hang him in the pit... until he tells you where Ferreira is hiding.

HIRATA: Like a samurai, turn over your sword.

TOMONAGA: Like a samurai.

He turns over his sword, bows to Inoue, and follows the guard. Inoue has his eyes fixed on the floor.

HIRATA: Now that Tomonaga has confessed, there should be no trouble in finding Ferreira. Won't you leave the rest to me?

INOUE: Hirata, life is very simple for you, isn't it? You live it at its lowest level, don't you?

HIRATA: What do you mean?

INOUE: Oh, nothing. I only meant to say that in every society men like you spread out as luxuriantly as weeds and prove to be quite as hardy.... I think I know how we can catch Ferreira. I'm not like you. I don't go after men for the joy of catching them.

In a low voice.

INOUE: I've placed a wager.

HIRATA: Oh? What have you wagered?

INOUE: Am I right? Or are the Christians right? Is Japan really a golden country in which the seed will grow, as Tomonaga says; or is it a swamp, as I think, a swamp in which the roots rot and die. But you wouldn't understand. It's all right. Go ahead.

Hirata bows and retires.

INOUE
(seeing Gennosuke with eyes downcast):
Now there's a real samurai, this Tomonaga.

Gennosuke remains with eyes down.

INOUE: You must certainly hate me. Because I played with your heart in order to get Tomonaga to confess. I made light of a man's heart. But politics in every age is of this nature.

Gennosuke bows and retires.

INOUE: I'll catch Ferreira. But will he fall, or won't he? This is what I must find out—for my own sake. This is my wager. Through Ferreira, I torture myself.

CURTAIN

ACT TWO SCENE THREE

The scene is once again the Christians' meeting place in Korimura.

HATSU
(to Norosaku):
Norosaku, won't you sing the hymn "We're on our Way to Paradise" once more?

NOROSAKU:
We're on our way, we're on our way, We're on our way to the temple of Paradise. The temple of Paradise is far away, The temple of Paradise is far away. We're on our way, we're on our way, We're on our way to the temple of Paradise.

HATSU: That hymn was sung by a man named Jiroemon from the island of Goto. The inquisitors begged him again and again to give up his faith and they tortured him brutally. But he wouldn't give them the sign. And so they put him on a boat and headed for the island of Naka-enoshima in mid-ocean, planning to kill him there. And this is the hymn he sang on the boat.

NOROSAKU: And then they sent him to Paradise.

HATSU: There are no trees or shrubs on Naka-enoshima. It's a frightening island, with only bare rocks. They
made Jiroemon stand on top of the rocks and they urged him once more to give up his faith.

NOROSAKU: Then they sent him to Paradise.

Yuki and Kasuke enter.

KASUKE: Lord Tomonaga hasn't come back yet?

HATSU: No, not yet.

KASUKE: He went to the bureau yesterday and he's not back yet.

HATSU: Yuki, what shall we do?

YUKI: I want to see Father Ferreira.

Ferreira enters with Hisaichi

FERREIRA: What's the matter?

KASUKE: Lord Tomonaga hasn't come back yet. He's been gone since yesterday.

FERREIRA: Did he leave any word?

YUKI: No.

FERREIRA: Don't worry. Sudden business may have come up.

NOROSAKU: And then the man standing on top of the cliff was sent to Paradise.

Sound of knocking at the door.

HISAICHI: Who is it?

MOKICHI: Mokichi.

Mokichi enters.

MOKICHI: Father, Father ...

KASUKE: Not so loud. He's right over here.

MOKICHI: A young samurai has just come saying he has important business and must by ail means speak to Yuki.

HATSU: Is he one of the officers of the bureau?

MOKICHI: He said she'd understand if I told her that Gennosuke had come. He says he has news of her father that he must pass on to her at once.

YUKI: I'll speak with him, Father.

FERREIRA
(leaves one candle lit on the altar, but extinguishes the rest):
It's best if you all return quietly with Yuki. Take care not to be seen. Hisaichi, stay at Yuki's side and don't leave her on any condition. Kasuke, please help me here.

Exit all except Ferreira and Kasuke, who conceal the altar.

FERREIRA: What's the matter?

KASUKE: My tooth. I have a toothache.

FERREIRA: Look at this.

He shows him a crucifix, then continues as if speaking to himself.

FERREIRA: Do you think that Christ didn't feel the same weakness of flesh as you? What about the Garden of Gethsemane? When he sweat blood. It was blood he sweat. Just as you and I, he must have struggled against a great fear.

KASUKE: Father, do you suppose that Lord Tomonaga's been caught? In that case, they'll be after us shortly.

FERREIRA: It's not yet certain.

KASUKE: I'll step on the
fumi-e.
I know it. I try to imagine myself taking your hand and the hands of the other Christians and going with you to Paradise, but my body refuses to follow such a dream. To tell the truth, Father, I'm scared. I'm scared of being tortured and I'm scared of dying.

FERREIRA: You're not the only one that's scared.

KASUKE: No. In this world there are the strong and the weak, just as there are girls with pretty faces and those with ugly. Those with pretty faces go through life attracting men, while the others lead lonely lives. This is just the same. The strong, like Tomekichi of Isahaya, are able to put up with any suffering; are never afraid, no matter what terrible experience they're made to undergo. He was taken into God's home. But in my case, though I want to go along with Tomekichi, this body is frozen with fear.

He falls to the ground and weeps. The door opens with a screech.

FERREIRA: Who is it?

He sees Yuki standing there.

FERREIRA: Yuki, what has happened?

YUKI: Father's been taken as we feared.

FERREIRA: Lord Tomonaga taken?

YUKI: Taken and is now hanging in the pit.

FERREIRA: Who told you this?

YUKI: Gennosuke came to tell me.

From the shadow of the door, Hatsu and Gennosuke enter.

FERREIRA: Yuki, did you bring him here?

YUKI: Please forgive me, but there was no other way.

GENNOSUKE: Please forgive this intrusion. But don't
scold Yuki. I'm also a samurai. I'll never mention this to anyone.

FERREIRA: You're one of the officers of the bureau, aren't you?

GENNOSUKE: Yes, I am. But I did not come here in that capacity.

KASUKE: Father, you must not be deceived by that officer's words.

FERREIRA: Lord Tomonaga is now hanging in the pit, you say?

BOOK: The Golden Country
6.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

In the Blood by Jackie French
Devil's Valley by André Brink
Michel/Striker by Alexandra Ivy, Laura Wright
Prowl the Night by Crystal Jordan