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Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Emory Women Writers Resource Project

The Heart of Hyacinth, an electronic edition

by Onoto Watanna [Watanna, Onoto, 1879-1954]

date: 1903
source publisher: Harper & Brothers
collection: Genre Fiction

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THE great red sun had finished its day of travel and had dropped deep into the waters far off in the gilded western sky. How very still were the approaching shadows, how phantom-like they seemed to creep, spreading, though they scarcely stirred. The glow of the sun was still upon the land, reflecting the light on the dew-damped trees and the upturned faces of the nameless flowers, which seemed to raise their heads, hungry, as though loath to part with the light.

Not a sound was heard on Matsushima. The birds were voiceless, the waters moved with a soundless motion, licking rather than beating against the rocks, stirring lazily, as if in slumber.

Upon the silence there tenderly stole | | 183 page image : 183 THE HEART OF HYACINTH the gentle, mellow pealing of a temple bell. Its even-song was soft and sweetly muffled, so that one would have thought it came from afar off.

Hyacinth, heartsick and footsore, was weary when she reached the bay. With a little cry she caught her breath, as for the first time she looked about her, awakened from her apathy by the sudden tone of the bell.

The light of day was disappearing. Already the hills up which she must climb looked dark and in ghostly contrast to the still light and shining bay. Yet the girl lingered on the shore, her hand shading her eyes, watching yearningly the sunset. The beauty of the passing day hurt her. She was in a condition to feel acutely. The temple bell had ceased its song. With the departure of the sun, the silence seemed more oppressive.

Shuddering now, she looked up fearfully at the hills. Not since she was a very little child had she visited these | | 184 page image : 184 THE HEART OF HYACINTH particular hills at night, and even then she had not been alone.

Yet in those days she could have found her way blindfolded among the rocks, stupendously projecting and facing the silent bay. She had assured Aoi that she knew every inch of the land hereabouts. Yet now, as she turned from the shore of the bay and began to climb upward, she stumbled uncertainly. Her hands, outstretched before her, revealed the fact that she was blindly feeling her way, and wandering along paths she did not know.

"It will be all right soon," she kept repeating to herself. "I am not lost; only a little dazed, and I am tired--tired. Wait, I will find the great rock soon, and then all will be well with me."

She wandered about hither and thither in the darkness. Gigantic rocks were about her on all sides, now shutting out the light of the bay. Behind her the hills loomed up into enormous mountains, steep and impenetrable.

| | 185 page image : 185 THE HEART OF HYACINTH

The darkness about her, accentuated by the shadows of the rocks, awed and terrified her. She raised her face appealingly to the sky. Only one star shone out in its firmanent, bright, soft, and luminous.

"It is becoming lighter," she said. "Ah, will the moon never arise?"

And, as she spoke, the lazy moon crept upward beyond the black mountains, a train of stars following in her wake. Her light was bright, and reflected in a silver gleam upon the upturned face of Hyacinth.

Light was all about her. The black shadows had evaporated like the mist, and clean cut about her the familiar cliffs and rocks outjutted, and the white tombs of the great feudal lords of Sendai shone out like strange, unearthly mirrors. She stood in their midst, close by the deserted Zuiganjii. And the rock against which she leaned grew suddenly white and dazzling. Gazing with awed, wondering eyes upon | | 186 page image : 186 THE HEART OF HYACINTH it, she thought that some kindly goddess had guided her wandering footsteps in the dark to the very refuge she sought.

Yet she did not enter the cavern beneath, though she was weary. She was watching, with reverential emotion, one of the phenomena of nature. As she looked upward she knew that this sight would bring that evening to Matsushima's shore hundreds of banqueters, for the Japanese never fail to celebrate the Milky Way. They call it the Heavenly River, in which goddesses wash their robes in the month of August.

Mechanically, and almost unconsciously, she climbed to the surface of the rock. From her height she now looked down upon the bay. Across the waters on the other shore the temples were illuminated. The white sails of some fishing-boats were floating like white birds gently swimming.

For a time she stood quietly on the great rock. The silence and stillness | | 187 page image : 187 THE HEART OF HYACINTH of the night possessed her, and she became drowsy. She stooped and touched the surface of the rock, and found that it was covered with some soft moss.

"It is so dark inside," she said, plaintively, "and I am so weary. The gods will give me sleep without."

In a little while her tired little body had relaxed its tension. She lay there on the rock, upon her back, her arms stretched far out on either side, like the wings of a bird, her face upturned to the white-flecked sky.

Thus, among the tombs of the ancient lords of Sendai, upon the very rock where the Date lords met to raise their voices in allegiance to the religion of her ancestors, this little Caucasian maiden slept alone.

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