「山椒大夫 第一話「別れ」/The Parting」
A group of 4 people walked down the road by the sea in Echigo or present-day Niigata prefecture.
Anjyu was 14 and her brother Zushio was 12.
Their mother was about 30 and a female servant was with them.
When a local woman passed by the servant asked her,
“Excuse me, is there somewhere we can stay tonight?”
These days, we can’t have strangers in our homes because there are some bad men who buy and sell people.
Why don’t you stay under the bridge over there tonight?
I will bring you some blankets later.”
When they reached the bridge it was getting dark.
The mother and servant were really afraid.
They prayed for the kind woman to return.
Someone finally came, but it was not that woman.
It was a strong-looking man.
“I often patrol this area.
I feel sorry for travelers who don’t have a place to stay.
If you want, you can come to my house and have warm food.”
The servant didn’t want to go but the mother wanted a safe place and food for her children.
“Thank you sir for your kindness.
My husband went to Kyushu so we are going there to find him.
Do you know if we should take a boat or keep walking?”
The man answered,
“Take the sea route.
There are many dangerous roads in the mountains.
I can help you find a boat to take you there.”
The mother was happy that she met a kind man.
She wanted to pay for the room and food but the man said it was not necessary instead he said,
“I’ll keep your wallet for you.
You don’t want to drop it in the ocean.”
The next morning, the man took the travelers to the sea.
Then, two boats appeared.
The man told the mother and servant to get into one boat and the children into the other one.
Then he said,
“Have a good day!”
And he left quickly.
The boat started to go in different directions.
The mother’s boat headed north and the children’s boat headed south.
The boy called out to his mother.
But it was too late.
They had been tricked.
The mother shouted to her children.
“Goodbye, my dearest children.
Anjyu, never lose your Buddhist statue.
Zushio, take care of your father’s knife.
Promise me, you will stay together!”
The waves took away the cries of the children and their mother under the cold sky.