Danger! Danger! Translation in Progress

This is the unblog. I will post a translation of a short story little by little. This is the first draft. Warts and all.

This story by Yoshikawa Eiji imagines the aftermath of the revenge of the Ako ronin (the 47 ronin) against Lord Kira. After the ronin turned themselves in to the authorities, they were split into four groups and held in custody at the mansions of the four clans of the Mizuno, the Matsudaira, the Mori, and the Hosokawa.

べんがら炬燵

吉川英治

The Red Braziers

Yoshikawa Eiji

雪の後

 北がわの屋根には、まだ雪が残っているのであろう、廂《ひさし》の下から室内は、広いので、灯がほしいほど薄暗いが、南の雀口《すずめぐち》にわずかばかりつよい陽の光が刎《は》ね返《かえ》っていた。きのうにつづいて、終日《ひねもす》、退屈な音を繰りかえしている雨だれの無聊《ぶりょう》さをやぶるように、地面へ雪の落ちる音が、時々、ずしんと、十七人の腸《はらわた》にひびいた。

After the Snow

Snow probably remained on the north-facing roofs. The wide rooms under the eaves were so dim, fires were desired. Only a bit of strong sunlight bounced in through the gaps under the eaves facing south. Yesterday and all day today, as if trying to break up the tedious sounds of repeated raindrops, the thuds of snow falling on the ground sometimes reverberated in the bowels of the seventeen men.

 太平記を借りうけて、今朝から手にしはじめた潮田又之丞《うしおだまたのじょう》が、その度に、きまって、書物から眸を離すので、そばに坐している近松勘六《ちかまつかんろく》が、

「雪じゃよ」

 低声《こごえ》でささやいた。

「赤穂《あこう》も、今年は降ったかな」

 富森助右衛門《とみのもりすけえもん》がつぶやくと、

「のう、十郎左」

 三、四人おいて坐っていた大石瀬左衛門《おおいしせざえもん》が、前かがみに、磯貝十郎左衛門《いそがいじゅうろうざえもん》の方を見て、

「——雪で思いだしたが、もう十年も前、お国元の馬場で、雪というと、よく暴れたのう」

「うむ」

Ushioda Matanojou had borrowed a copy of the epic Taiheiki and began to read it that morning. Each time, he looked up from the book, Chikamatsu Kanroku seated nearby whispered, "It's snowing."

"This year it's probably falling in Akou, too," muttered Tominomori Sukeimon. "Right, Juroza," said Oishi Sezaemon, who was seated with three or four men, as he slouched forward and looked at Isogai Jurozaemon.

"The snow makes me remember. It happened ten years ago. A snowstorm ranged at the equestrian grounds in my hometown."

"Yes."

"This year, it's probably already fallen in Ako," muttered Tominomori Sukeimon. "Hey, Juroza," said Oishi Sezaemon, who was seated with three or four men, as he slouched forward and looked at Isogai Jurozaemon.

"The snow makes me remember. About ten years ago, a snowstorm raged at the equestrian grounds in my hometown."

"Yeah."

 十郎左は、笑《え》くぼでうなずいた。 「この中でも、いちばん年下じゃが、そのころお小姓組のうちでも、やはり、貴様がいちばん小さかった。そして、泣き虫は十郎左と決まっていたので、貴様の顔ばかり狙って、雪つぶてが飛んで来たものだった」

「泣き虫なら、もっと、涙もろい先輩がおるよ」

「誰」

 紙捻《こより》で耳をほっていた赤埴源蔵《あかばねげんぞう》が、

「よせ、あの話は」

 友達は、みな知ってることとみえて、同じようにくすくす笑った。

 こんなふうに、時々、和《なご》やかにくずす謹厳な無聊《ぶりょう》さを、それでも、この部屋の若者たちは、隣室の方へ、気がねらしく、笑ってはすぐ憚《はばか》るような眼をやるのだった

Juroza nodded with a smile showing his dimple.

"Even among our pages then, the smallest one was you. The crybaby was definitely Juroza. All snowballs flew aimed at your face."

"If there's a crybaby, he's the sentimental, easily-brought-to-tears senior."

"Who?"

Akabane Genzo while digging in his ear with a twisted piece of paper said, "Tell us that story."

All the friends seemed to know it and snickered.

From time to time, this chatter gently destroyed a sober boredom. But the young men in this room looked toward the adjoining room as if hesitating and afraid to laugh.

 ちょうど、下《しも》の間《ま》にはこの九人。  上《かみ》の間に八人。

 ふた組に分れていた。

 その上の間の組には、大石内蔵助《おおいしくらのすけ》以下、老人が多く、きょうは料紙と硯《すずり》を借りて、手紙を書いている者が多かった。いちばん年長の堀部弥兵衛《ほりべやへえ》、顔の怖い吉田忠左衛門《よしだちゅうざえもん》、黙ったきりの間喜兵衛《はざまきへえ》、そのほか原惣右衛門《はらそうえもん》だの、間瀬久太夫《ませきゅうだゆう》だの、真四角に膝をならべて、読書か何かしていた。

The men were divided into two groups. Nine men were in the lower room. Eight were in the upper room.

In the group in the upper room were many old men like Oishi Kuranosuke. Today, they borrowed writing paper and inkstones, and many wrote letters. The oldest Horibe Yahei, the scary-looking Yoshida Chuzaemon, the silent Hazama Kihei, Hara Soemon, and Mase Kyudayu were arranged knee-to-knee in a perfect square reading something.


 内蔵助だけは、斜めに顔をあげて、いつもの深謀な眸も、今はもう何も思うことがないというように、ぼんやり、半眼にふさいでいた。書き物もせず、書も手にふれず、どっちかといえば小がらで肩のまろい体を、やっと、置くべき所へ置いたというような恰好で、居ずまいよく坐っていた。

 十二月十六日——

 人々は、手紙の封に書いている。

 討入のおとといの夜は、もう過去だった。何だか、遠い過去の気がするのである。

 ゆうべは雨だった。

Only Kuranosuke's head was raised at a tilt. His always-thoughtful eyes were lazily half closed like nothing was on his mind. He had no writing material and was not touching any book. His small body with rounded shoulders sat upright like he was finally sitting where he should be sitting.

The men wrote December 16 on the seal of the letter.

The night of the raid the day before last had already passed. Somehow, it felt like the distant past.

Last evening, it rained.


 吉良殿の首《しるし》を、泉岳寺の君前に手向《たむ》けてから後、松平伯耆守《まつだいらほうきのかみ》の邸《やしき》に直訴《じきそ》して、公儀の処分を待ったのである。その結果、一同四十六名を、水野、松平、毛利、細川の四家へわけてお預けと決ったのは夜で、雨の中を、まるで戦《いくさ》のような人数に警固され、この白金《しろがね》の中屋敷へ、内蔵助以下十七名が送りこまれたのは、すでに丑満《うしみつ》だった。

After the head of Lord Kira was offered to the lord at Sengakuji Temple, a direct appeal was made at the residence of Matsudaira Hokinokami. There they waited for disposal by the authorities. As a result, on that night, the decision was to split up the group of forty-six men and place them in the custody of the four clans of Mizuno, Matsudaira, Mori, and Hosokawa. Several men guarded them in the rain as if engaged in full-scale warfare. It was already the dead of night when seventeen men under Kuranosuke were escorted to the daimyo's spare residence in Shirogane.

 意外だったのは、ここへ着いて、おとといからの泥装束を脱いでいる混雑のなかへ、五十四万石の大身である越中守が、自身、無造作にやってきて、 (この度は、さだめし、本望なことであろうの)

 と、ねぎらわれたことだった。

 次には不寝番《ねずのばん》の物々しい警戒だった。今朝になって、それとなく訊くと吉良家とは、唇歯《しんし》の家がらである上杉弾正|太弼《たいひつ》の夜襲に備えるものと分った。

Unexpectedly, Etchu-no-kami, a wealthy man worth 540 thousand koku, soon arrived amid the confusion of the men busy removing muddy clothes from the day before yesterday. He was thankful that his long-cherished ambition would surely now be fulfilled.

The night watch was on high alert. He learned from a casual question that morning that the Kira clan had prepared for a night attack by Uesugi Danjo-daihitsu, who had the lineage of the Shinshi clan.

 内蔵助は、

(上杉家には千坂がおる)

 一笑したが、若手のいる下《しも》の間《ま》では、

(いや、何ともしれぬぞ)

 と、なお胸の余燼《よじん》を、消さなかった。で——雪とは承知しながら、ずしん、ずしん、と地ひびきのする度に、潮田又之丞も、ほかの者も、すぐ眼をうごかした。

Kuranosuke smiled at the thought of Chisaka in the Uesugi clan. He thought the younger men in the lower room knew nothing, but the embers in their breasts had not been extinguished. While aware of the snow, each time the ground reverberated with a thud, the eyes of Ushioda Matanojou and others darted around.






眼皺

 表役との境は、混雑していた。

 家老の三宅藤兵衛《みやけとうべえ》は、大廊下の角で、十七士|接伴役《せっぱんやく》として、細川家の家中から選ばれたうちの一人である堀内伝右衛門《ほりうちでんえもん》をつかまえて、

「なに、あの者たちへ、火鉢を与える? ……。以てのほかな!」

 と、たしなめていた。

「火鉢はおろか、公儀のお預け人。あの衆と、雑談なども、かたく無用でござる」

Eye Wrinkles

The area near the lieutenant was crowded.

In a corner of the large hallway, the chief retainer Miyake Tobei grabbed hold of Horiuchi Den'emon, one of the men selected from the Hosokawa clan to attend to the seventeen warriors, to berate him.

"Are you giving them braziers?… That's outrageous!"

"The prisoners of the shogunate asked, 'Are there braziers?' Chatting with that crowd is absolutely useless."


 伝右衛門は、物頭役《ものがしらやく》で、藤兵衛よりはずっと末席だった。老人というほどでもないが、小鬢《こびん》には白髪《しらが》が見え、温良な眼皺《めじわ》のなかに、親しみぶかい眸をもった人物だった。ふだんは、上役の者へ、逆らったことなどはない性格だが、まざまざ、彼の顔に不平ないろが燃えたので、藤兵衛はまたいった。

「料紙|硯《すずり》だけはゆるしたが、風呂の事、櫛《くし》道具の事、医薬その他、箇条にいたして公儀へ、お伺い中じゃ。必ずと、勝手な処置、相ならぬぞ」

「心得ぬことを……」

 伝右衛門は、吃《ども》った。

Den'emon was the commander and sat in a seat much further back than Tobei. Although he could not be called an old man, gray hairs were visible in his sidelocks. His warm eyes were between gentle wrinkles. Usually, his personality was not to confront higher-ranking officers, but shades of dissatisfaction burned vividly on his face. Tobei again said, "They were only allowed paper and inkstones. The shogunate authority stipulates in the articles that baths, combs, medicines, and other items are to be requested. You do not handle it yourself."

"I didn't know …" stammered Den'emon.



「なにが心得ぬ」

「御家老には、あの衆は、ただの囚人《めしゅうど》とでも思し召してか」

「お預けの罪人、囚人に相違なかろう」

「罪人」

 伝右衛門は、眼に涙さえもって、心外そうに、

「武士は勿論、お台所の御用にまいる町人や、お坊主の端くれまで、義士よ武士道の華よと、世間を挙げて、賞《ほ》めおりますあの衆に対して」

「だまんなさい。罪は罪」

「御家老は」

「だまらぬかっ。私情をもって、御法を紊《みだ》しなどしては、天下の御政治は元より、一藩のしめしがつかぬ」

"What didn't you know?"

"As a senior retainer, should I think of that group as mere prisoners?"

"They're no different than criminals in custody or prisoners."

"Criminals."

Den'emon had tears in his eyes and unexpectedly said, "Of course, that group is being praised by warriors, but also by artisans who go to work in kitchens, low-ranking monks, loyal vassals and flowers in the way of the samurai, all of society."

"Please be quiet. A crime is a crime."

"Sir …"

"Silence. Law confused by personal feelings does not provide a good example of the nation's government exercised by the authority of one clan."

「武士の情けを知らぬおことば、伝右衛門は、服しかねまする」

「服さぬ」

「はいっ」

「服さぬといったな」

「申しました。申さずにはおられませぬ」

「これは、伝右、伝右。……貴公よいお年をしながら、巷《ちまた》の人気などにぽっぽっとしてはいかぬぞ」

"I cannot submit to words that do not know the warrior's compassion."

"Do not submit."

"Yes."

"I said do not submit."

"I said what I had to say."

"This, Den'e, Den'e … You're old enough to know that you must not heedlessly follow the popular path."

「そんな、軽薄な存念とお考えあることが心外じゃ。今の世相をご覧あれ、武士道がどこに、君臣の義がどこに。武士の賢い道は、禄《ろく》から禄の多きへつき、金を蓄え、妾《しょう》をかぞえ、遊芸|三昧《ざんまい》、人あたりよく、綺羅《きら》の小袖で送るのが一番じゃという風ではござらぬか。——そのよい手本が吉良殿と内匠頭《たくみのかみ》殿のいきさつじゃ。赤穂の浪士たちがした事は、御主君の仇をうったのみか、腐れきったこの世相と人心の眼を醒《さ》まさせたものと伝右衛門は考えまする。それを、ただのお預け人と、同視なさる心底が、歎《なげ》かれますわい」

"That sort of frivolous opinion and idea is regrettable. Look at the signs of the times. Where is the way of the samurai? Where is the honor of lord and vassals? It seems that the wise path of the samurai is best achieved by increasing one's stipend, amassing gold, counting concubines, concentrating on singing and dancing, being amiable, and going out in fine, quilted silk garments. A good example of this is the trouble between Lord Kira and Takumi-no-kami (Asano Naganori). I believe the act of the Ako ronin was only taken to avenge their lord and awoke the popular mind to the rotten signs of the times. The sincere desire to treat him in the same way as a simple prisoner is regrettable."

「困った熱病じゃ。とにかく、火鉢などは相ならん」と後ろへ、幾つもの箱を運んで来て、立《た》ち淀《よど》んでいる納戸《なんど》の小侍たちを睨《にら》みつけて、

「元へ戻しておけっ」

 と、叱った。

 ふだんの伝右衛門とは、まるで別人のように、

「いや、かまわぬ。もしお咎《とが》めをうけた時は、伝右衛門が腹切っておわびするまで。通れっ」

「ならぬっ」

「御家老も接伴役のおひとりではないか」

「さればこそ、落度のないように計るのじゃ。伝右ひとりの腹切ってすむことならよいが、お家にもかかわる」

"This fever is a pain. In any case, do not set up the braziers," Tobei said behind him and glared at the petty samurai who were carrying several boxes and stood at the storeroom.

"Put them back," he yelled.

Like an entirely different man, Den'emon said, "No, ignore him. If there is blame, I will cut open my stomach in apology. Take them."

"No, stop!"

"Isn't the chief vassal one of the welcoming guards?"

"In that case, the plan will be flawless. The clan will be affected only I commit seppuku."

「あの衆の心事に、武士が、涙をそそがいでは、いよいよ武士道は地に廃《すた》る。伝右は、生命《いのち》をかけて接伴を勤めまする。——御家老とはいえ、無慈悲なお扱いには服せませぬ」

「これや、伝右が、どうかいたしたわい。火鉢は、納戸へ返せっ」

「かまわぬ運べっ」

「だまれ。上役の命を」

 十七士のいる広間まで、二人の大きな声は、がんがん聞えて行った、一同は、等《ひと》しく耳をすまして、ゆうべから見覚えている堀内伝右衛門という細川家の一家士に対して、心の底から持ちあげる感激を顔へいっぱいにしながら俯向いていた。

"In the public mind, the warriors are shedding tears, and the way of the samurai is finally trash on the ground. I am risking my life and working hard to be hospitable. The chief retainer should not surrender to merciless treatment."

"What are you doing, Den'e? Take the braziers back to the storeroom."

"Ignore him. Bring them."

"Shut up! I am your superior!"

The loud voices of the two carried and could be heard in the room holding the seventeen soldiers. The group strained to listen but looked down in shame. The deep emotions held in their hearts were reflected on their faces when they recalled a particular samurai who served the Hosokawa clan named Horiuchi Den'emon from the previous evening.

 すると、程なく、何事もなかったような伝右衛門の顔が、にこやかに、そこにみえて、

「そこへ一つ、その辺へ一つ」

 と、納戸の者をさしずして、火鉢をすえさせた。金網のかかっている大きな唐金《からかね》の火鉢である、それへ、紅殻染《べんがらぞめ》の小蒲団《こぶとん》をかけさせた。

 ことばになど現わし得ない気持と——伝右衛門の身にかかる咎《とが》めを気つかって、みんな、黙って首をさげていた。

 ゆうべ、一番さきに、彼と懇意になった富森助右衛門《とみのもりすけえもん》が何かのことから、内蔵助殿はあれで冬はとても寒がりやなので——と話したのを記憶していて、この計《はか》らいをしてくれたのだろう。好意どころか、生命がけの接待なのだ。一同は、火の暖かさよりも、伝右衛門の心に胸が熱くなった。

They could see Den'emon's complacent-looking face turn to a smile.

"One there. One over here," he instructed the men from the storeroom to set up the braziers. Small futons dyed red were hung over the wire netting that covered the large bronze braziers.

With no words to express their feelings, the men were aware of the condemnation hanging over Den'emon and silently lowered their heads.

Den'emon probably devised this plan after he remembered being told early in the evening by the ronin Tominomori Sukeemon, who had been his friend for a very long time, that Kuranosuke was complaining about the winter cold. This gesture was goodwill or a welcome that put his life at risk. More than the warmth from the fires, everyone was warmed by Den'emon's heart.

「これで、夜に入っても、いくらかはおしのぎようござろう」

 伝右衛門は、満足そうに、

「——わけても、大石殿はの」

 と、柔和《にゅうわ》な笑顔を送った。

 内蔵助は、遠くから、

「伝右どの」

 いっぱいな感謝が、その眼ざしと、その一礼とで相手の心に映《うつ》った。

「お気持は、頂戴いたした。しかし、公儀の御断罪を待つ私ども。……身に余りまする。お火鉢は、何とぞお退《さ》げおきを」

「ははは。聞えましたな」

「助右衛門が、いらざる無駄ばなし、寒さなど、とやこう申す境遇ではござらぬ」

"You'll somehow endure as night falls," said Den'emon with satisfaction, "Especially, Lord Oishi," and gave a genial smile.

From a distance, Kuranosuke said, "Den'emon, sir."

A deep gratitude was reflected in the looks, bows, and hearts of his companions.

"We appreciate your concern. However, we are burdened by convictions from the shogunate.… We are unworthy. Take away the braziers."

"Ha, ha, ha. I heard you."

"Sukeemon, your talk is useless. This isn't only about the cold."

「御心配くださるな。唯今、上役と口争《くちいさか》いはいたしたが、ちょうどそこへ、越中守様から、明日は御一同へも、精進《しょうじん》をさし上げたいというお沙汰が下った。殿様御自身、明日《あす》は、愛宕《あたご》神社へ、御祈願に参られますそうな。……お分りであろう。……火鉢などは、問題でない。藤兵衛もそれを聞いて、二言《にごん》とない顔。もう一切、お気づかい無用じゃ。さ、いささかながら、細川家の心づくし、あたって下さい、くつろいで、あたって下さい」

"Don't worry. I argued with a superior but was told to give everyone time tomorrow to pursue religious devotion. Tomorrow, Etchu-no-kami-sama himself will pray at Atago Shrine.… You understand.… The braziers are not a problem. Tobei also heard and looked as good as his word. Worrying about everything is pointless. They may be small, but the Hosokawa clan is kind. Please relax."

 接伴役は、十九名いた。交代で非番をつくり、その日は、夕刻から家に帰って、休養することになっていた。

 堀内伝右衛門は、町住居《まちずまい》だった。いつも馬で、若党に仲間《ちゅうげん》をつれ、高輪《たかなわ》から細川家の上屋敷に近い町まで、わが家の寝床を思いながら、緩慢な馬蹄《ひづめ》の音を楽しんで戻るのだった。

 夕方の駕屋|溜《たま》り、牛曳き、居酒屋、往来のどこへ耳を傾《かし》げても、今、江戸の話題は、赤穂浪士の讚美でもちきっている。伝右衛門は、それらの話をきくと、自分の名誉みたいに欣《うれ》しかった。また、義挙の反映が、貧しい層にほど強く浸《し》みとおっているのを知って、若党へ、

「世間は、底の方ほど、頼もしいものじゃ。赤穂の衆を見ても、大石殿はべつじゃが、大野、奥野、千石どころの重臣に、節操のある奴はおらぬ。義士の多くは、みな軽輩じゃ。肉食者《にくじきしゃ》いやしむべしと申すが、武士道は、上層《うえ》になくて、下層《した》にある。世の中を浄化する力も、国を支える力も、支権者にはのうて、無力な下層の方にあるというは、妙な話じゃぞ」

 と、馬上からいった。

Purple

Nineteen guests were being entertained. The guards took turns being off-duty. And that day they returned home to rest beginning in the evening.

Horiuchi Den'emon lived in town. He always traveled by horse with a young footman from Takanawa to a nearby town at the daimyo's mansion of the Hosokawa clan. While thinking about his bed, he returned enjoying the sluggish sounds of the horse's hooves.

Whether listening at the evening palaquin stops, the jail holding cells, the taverns, or spots along the road, the talk of Edo was praise for the Ako ronin. When Den'emon heard the talk, he was pleased like the honor was his. He knew the reflections of the noble deed percolated down to the underclasses. From his horse, he said, "The world trusts them, no matter how low in society. Even when you look at the people of Ako, Lord Oishi is special. Not one man of integrity exists among the senior vassals of Ono, Okuno, and Sengoku. Most loyal retainers are men of low rank and should be scorned for eating meat, but the Bushido code is not for the upper classes but for the lower ones. The power to purify the world and the strength to support the country are not in the powerful elite but in the powerless lower classes. It's a strange tale."

 年暮《くれ》の松や竹も、眼に映らないのである。辻や、橋の畔《ほとり》で、人だかりを見ると、

「落首だろう、読んで来い」

 と、駒をとめた。

 若党の佐介が、走って行って、

「見て参りました」

「なんとあった」

「——細川や水野ながれは清けれど……」

「ふむ」

「——ただ大甲斐《だいかい》の隠岐《おき》ぞにごれる」

「ははあ、町人どもの勘は、怖いものじゃ。義士のお預けをうけた四家のうちでも、細川家と水野家は、情ある取扱いをしているが、毛利と松平の二家は、冷遇じゃという噂がある。さてこそ、その諷刺《ふうし》であろう。ははははは、やりおるの」

The pine and bamboo decorations for the new year did not reflect in the eyes. When he saw a crowd at a crossroad or a bridge, he stopped his horse and said, "Come here and read a satirical poem."

The footman Sasuke ran over and said, "I heard this."

"What?"/p>

"The Hosokawa and Mizuno streams are pure and clean …"

"Go on."

"But the bay [Mouri Kai-no-kami Hidemoto] of the great sea is muddied."

"Ha, hah, the sixth sense of the townsmen is frightening. Of the four clans having custody of the loyal retainers, the Hosokawa clan and the Mizuno clan treat them with kindness, but the Mouri and the Matsudaira clans are rumored to be inhospitable and cold-hearted. The satire is as I expected. Ha, ha, ha, ha. That's it."

 伝右は、会心の時にやる独り合点を繰返して、

「やりおるやりおる」

 と、駒を、金杉橋《かなすぎばし》へすすめた。橋の上へ立つと、寒い潮《しお》の香と千鳥がそこらの川口から吹き上げた。

「はてな、今日も——」

 そこで彼が、眸を、反対な左の河岸へ反《そ》らした。

 木枯らしに吹かれて、女は二つの長い袖を胸に掻きあわせていた。戸ざした施米小屋《せまいごや》の蔭に立っているのである。寒々と、袂《たもと》の先や、裾がうごいた。そして、遠方からでもすぐ眼の中へとびこんで来るような江戸紫の布《きれ》を、たらりと頭巾にしていた。

Den'emon repeatedly convinced himself to act when feeling congenial.

"I'll do it. I'll do it," he said as he urged his horse to Kanasugi Bridge. When he stood on the bridge, the scent of the cold tide and plovers sprayed up into the air.

"Let me see, today too …"

He turned his eyes to the opposite shore on his left.

Blasted by a cold wind, a woman rubbed together her two long sleeves and stood in the shadow of a small shack with a closed door. The ends of her sleeves and her hem fluttered in the cold. The royal blue cloth that caught his eyes from the distance had been turned into a drooping hood.

 どこか淋しい影のある顔だちだった。若くて、水の垂れるほど美しい姿が、片鴛鴦《かたおし》のように、悄然と、枯れ柳の下に凍ったまま、伝右衛門が橋を渡りきるまで、じいと、見送っているのだった。

「どこの娘?」

 伝右は、鞍つぼの上で、考えた。

 町家の女ではなく、身装《みなり》やもの腰は武家の娘である。しかし良家の子女が、ひとりであんな場所に佇立《たたず》んでいるのはおかしい。

 数えてみると、伝右衛門は、その江戸紫の頭巾を、これで何度見ているか分らなかった。

Her features had a shadow of sadness. Her young form as beautiful as dripping water was sad and frozen beneath the withered willow like a lone mandarin duck. Den'emon watched her but said nothing until he crossed the bridge.

"Whose daughter are you?"

Den'emon assessed her from his saddle.

She was not a woman from a tradesman's home. Her dress and demeanor were those of a daughter in a samurai family. However, it would be strange for a daughter from a good home to be standing alone in this place.

He tried to count, but could not remember how many times he had seen that royal blue scarf.

 白金《しろがね》の中屋敷の近くでも一、二遍、札《ふだ》の辻あたりでも——またこの金杉橋では今日でもう三、四度。

 ある時は、はっと、用ありげに眼を惑わせながら、そのくせ、近づいて来る気ぶりはなく、いつも濡れているような眸を投げて佇立《たたず》んでいるきりだった。

「品よく見せてはいるが、娼婦かも知れぬ」

 そうも、考えられた。

 どぎつい[#「どぎつい」に傍点]元禄の風俗、華美な女、世相に浮いてる油のような表皮は、すべて軽薄なもの、腐敗をつつんだものと伝右衛門はきめていた。

「——お帰り遊ばしませ」

 式台には、いつも通り、妻の磯女《いそじょ》と娘のお麗とが、指をついて迎えた。お麗の笑顔《えがお》や、貞淑な妻のそれを見るだけで、もう彼の疲労は忘れてしまうのだった。

 家庭にあっても、彼はむろんよい父であり、よい良人だった。行きとどいた調度や掃除にも、何不自由ない平和さがみえた。

Once or twice he saw her near a mansion in Shirogane, one time in the area of Fuda, and so far three or four times here at Kanesugi Bridge.

One time she looked startled and her eyes looked distracted by whatever matter concerned her, for that reason, he made no sign of approaching. She stood looking with eyes that always appeared wetted by tears.

He thought, She looks refined but is probably a prostitute.

Den'emon decided the troubling manners of the Genroku era, the splendid beautiful women, and a skin like oil floating in the world today were all frivolous and shrouded in decay.

"Welcome home."

As always, his wife Isojo and his daughter Rei bowed politely on the entryway step. He only saw Rei's smiling face and that of his virtuous wife and forgot his fatigue.

In his home, of course, he was a good father and fine husband. The unencumbered peace of his home was seen in its considerate furnishings and cleanliness.

  • べんがら炬燵
  • 著者名: 吉川英治
  • 入力:門田裕志
  • 校正:川山隆
  • 翻訳者:シェリー・マーシャル
  • The Red Braziers (in Japanese)
  • Author: Yoshikawa Eiji
  • Input by: Kadota Hiroshi
  • Revised by: Kawayama Ryu
  • Translated by: Shelley Marshall
© 2018 Shelley Marshall