Two ghosts

2014年01月29日

Two ghosts

Grateful Crane

This is a story from the late Edo era.
One summer night, two men, who’d drunk too much, were reeling down along a narrow path.
The path led them to a cemetery.
When they came near the entrance of it, they found a straw sack lying by the path.
“What is it? Looks like a straw rice sack.” one said.

“Check it,” said the other.
The first man opened the sack.
“Full of potatoes!” they cried.
“But who left this sack here?
Do we have to take it to the guardhouse?”
one asked.

“I don’t know.
Maybe it’s a gift to us from heaven.
Why don’t we divide the potatoes into two?”
said the other.

“All right.
But we should divide them into two quite equally,”
the first man suggested.
They carried the sack and entered the graveyard to divide the potatoes, but two potatoes dropped off from the sack when they staggered to pick up the potato sack.
“Wait. I’ll pick them up,” one said.
“Don’t worry. We can come back and get them later,”
said the other.
Under the light of the moon, they sat surrounded by the gravestones.
The sack was between them.
One man picked up two potatoes from the sack, put one near his friend’s knee, and put the other near his knee, and said,
“One for you, and one for me.”
The other man also picked up two potatoes, put one near his friend’s knee, put the other near his knee, and said,
“One for you, and one for me.”

People were afraid of ghosts, but loved ghost stories.
That’s why they used to go to see ghost-story dramas at Kabuki Theater in summer.

A young merchant had just watched ‘Yotsuya Kaidan’
(A ghost story at Yotsuya on the Tokaido.
It is one of the famous ghost stories since then.)
The drama impressed him a lot, so he was still in the mood of a ghosts’ world.
It was a beautiful moonlit night, but uncomfortably warm and humid, no wind at all.

When he came across the graveyard, he thought he heard something like an ominous voice.
It seemed like the voice came from inside a gravestone.
He strained his eyes to see if someone was out there.
But he couldn’t see anybody.
Then he heard the voices,
“One for you, and one for me.”
“One for you, and one for me.”

“There must be two ghosts out there!”
He turned back and fled away from there.

Then he bumped into a villager.
He panted out the scary story to the villager,
“I’ve heard two ghosts counting bodies in the graveyard out there.”
The villager laughed it off,
“Are you dreaming or something?
I’ve never heard such a strange story.
I can’t believe you.
There aren’t any ghost in the real world.”

But curiosity drove the villager into going along with the merchant.
When they reached the entrance of the graveyard, an eerie warm breeze came upon them.
The villager had a feeling that he heard a faint voice there, something like,
“One for you, and one for me.”
He looked back at the merchant who seemed hesitant to enter the graveyard.
He looked around and saw the dark shapes of the willow trees and the dim shadows of the gravestones.
Then the voice reached his ears more clearly.
“One for you, and one for me.”
“One for you, and one for me.
There are still two at the entrance.”

He felt a creepy sensation down his spine.
He looked back at the merchant again, who’d become much paler.
Without a word they started running away.
Yet they felt the voice coming after them.
“There are still two at the entrance.”

The end