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A Domestic Animal part 5

“Thither she escaped, hither she ran!”

The confusion itself was very extraordinary.

“Surely, Pup is killed,” Ko chan said, trembling.

At last, she has escaped. A man with a big oak club in his hand, shook his head to his companion. “No use, no use,” the policeman said and laughed when he went out the gate. With disappointed looks the two men drew away the empty carriage.

Comfortably lying on the moist earth

Anyway she had escaped with her life. And, by and by, her bosom became larger. Her eyes began to be shaded with the restless color. Now she must guard not only herself, but also her children within her womb. Thus the pleasant shade of Mokusei was no more the place for security. Even when she was comfortably lying on the moist earth, breathing out her agony for a while, she stood up as soon as she saw the shadow of a man. She could not be negligent even for a moment. To her eyes, there was nothing as merciless and cruel as the human being.

But, in spite of her fear, she could not leave the human house. How at ease she would be if, like other animals, she could go to a distant forest and give birth amid the green trees and grasses! Thus it might seem to the looker-on, but it was not so with her, she was unable to change her inherited nature.

It was just at the beginning of June that she finished her duty of motherhood. Four puppies appeared in the hot-house of Kin san. Two of them were beautiful piebald puppies of brown and while like that of Pochi, one was entirely black, and the other was of ambiguous gray, very much like herself!

Ah, it was in the morning of her motherhood that she first saw the smiles of human beings. It was also in that morning of her motherhood that she first had nourishing food since her birth.

“Pup—come, come.”

Opening the paper screen of the kitchen, the aunt at Kin san`s began to call her, as she has called her since that day.

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A Domestic Animal part 4

Meanwhile, the spring has come. And at the time when the frost began to melt she seemed to be quite grown up. All the dogs, from Kin san`s Pochi to Kuro of the bathing house, Aka of the timber-dealer`s, and the fearful big dog which was kept at the neighboring planter`s, gathered around her. Wherever she goes, she is followed by two or three dogs. So a comfortable place like that shade of Mokusei was overflowing with deep groans of dogs that sounded as if they wished to whisper or to flatter.

An aunt who came to the well-side with a hand-pail in her hand, saw this sight.

“My! “she said. “Pup was a female dog! I never noticed that!”

And the aunt of the new rent house, who happened to be there, also said:

“Neither did I!”

And the two aunts laughed, greatly amused.

According to the point of view

She ought to be banished. Such was the argument which was raised in the estate of Kin san. Among the members of the four families, however, the arguments raged between two parties, the uncles and the aunts. According to the point of view which was insisted upon by the aunts, it was now different. She was not in the condition she was formerly, and it would be too pitiful if she were to have a baby. As is expected of those with experience, the aunts were sympathetic, comparing her with themselves. That may be so, but how awful it would be if she gave birth to children! This was the opinion held by the uncles. Indeed, there was nobody who was not anxious about her future.

She did not know anything about this.

Another day, a carriage stopped at the door of Kin san. There was something like a lidless box on this carriage, which was covered with a dirty straw mat. Her quick nose smelt out what was in the carriage.

Following after a policeman in uniform came a dubious looking man, who entered the house. But she was not roaming in such a dangerous place. Pochi, Kuro and the other dogs began to cry all at once. Now, uncles, aunts, and all people of the village came out.

“Dog hunter, mamma!”

Ko chan hid herself behind her mother.

People ran around the garden. Kin san`s daughter, whose daily duty it was to water the flowers, ran out to the street with a dipper in her hand. A middle-school boy, who was painting a water-color picture, followed them, flinging away his tripod.

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A Domestic Animal part 3

It was not only once or twice that she met such hard experiences. But she was not a dog to be crushed down by this kind of hardship. She would hunt around for food with calm composure, with the appearance of saying: “This is my own territory.” Boldly she stepped into the new kitchen of the rent house, or went up to the veranda with her dirty feet.

Washed things of the aunts

She bit off the laces from the garden slippers, and played with the washed things of the aunts, smearing them with mud and dust. She had no regard for the human children. This family had a girl named Ko chan, who liked to come out to play in the yard, in big wooden clogs trailing on the ground. She chased this girl for fun. Sometimes, Ko chan would bring out a piece of tasty-looking cake and show it to her.

“Look here! Look here, Pup!”

Instantly she jumped at Ko chan.

“Oh, Pup is wicked, mamma!”

This was always Ko chan`s cry for help. Then the aunt came hastily and called Ko chan.

“Run away, Ko chan!—quick! Why do you wear such big clogs?” By this time poor Ko chan had nothing left. She had taken the cake from the crying Ko chan, thus securing the sweets which are eaten by man. At such time, she usually licked the top of her nose with her red tongue.

Nevertheless, there was no intention of good or evil in her actions. These words she heard from the uncles and aunts of the estate, but nothing about them was known to her. She had no understanding of the etiquette and civility created by man. She was only a dog. Whether her action was impolite or not, that was not a question. She was only a poor animal, acting according to its nature.

The cold, scanty, miserable winter passed while she suffered this “better go away” treatment. It was a wonder that she did not die from hunger. The begging priest who used to come to Okubo every morning said that even he did not get much. As to the humble woman who took a child with her, she was refused mostly by “no business`” or “nothing doing.” Even human beings were in a sad state. How, then, could they spare to this ignorant and useless animal, this embarrassing dog, a bowlful of their cold rice? She roamed on the snow in the far-off places, and ate everything, even the skins of the orange.

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A Domestic Animal part 2

There was an old Mokusei in the garden. She decided to make of their shade her resting place; stretching out her four legs on the ground, which was warmed by the sunshine through the leaves, she sighed or scratched the itchy spots. When it was evening she entered her underground retreat and lay down on the charcoal bags which were under the floor above. A large wash-tub she also tried. Sometimes she crept as far as the passage under the kitchen floor, and slept on the charcoals in the warm charcoal box. Thus she began her life.

Kin san`s family, at this time, kept a piebald dog of brown and white, whose name was Pochi.This lively Pochi was the only being who welcomed her. Pochi seemed to have a sociable nature; he approached her politely scratching the ground. She made her return greeting by shaking her dirty tail.

But Kin san and the others who lived on his estate did not receive her as Pochi did. “Isn`t it a great loss to be ugly, even among the animals,” remarked one. “I might keep her, if she were a bit better,” said another. All this was meaningless to her, and she was called Pup by these people who did not know.

Burst out railingly

Each of the four houses had an “aunt,” which was the name given to the hostess of the family. Not only these uunts, but also their children, laughed at and hated her and burst out railingly, calling her “Pup, pup.” As for the “uncles,” they were more dreadful. The least relaxing of her vigilance caused them to chase her. Many things were thrown at her—stones, clumps of clay, the iron fire- Htick. Once a big club of the door guard was flung after her, and made a wound on her hind leg.

Gradually, she understood the human mind. The significant twist of the mouth, a gesture as if to pick up something, the shrugging of shoulders and the bitten lips—all sentiments expressed against her—showed to her the deep enmity of the hunter. One day she was almost driven to bay in Kin san`s kitchen. Nobody knows how she was able to find the means of escape! People were crying: “Bring the rope—the rope, the rope!” She was desperate, and, running through the garden, where were the dwarf trees, she went toward the hot-house; turning around t he barn, she escaped to the fields, where were the flowers to be sold on Atc days.

“Gone, at last!” said one of the uncles. “Isn`t she a troublesome thing?” replied Kin san, who laughed like a good-natured man.

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A Domestic Animal part 1

Shimazaki Toson (1871-1943)

Shimazaki Toson began writing as a poet of the new era, but after the Russo-Japanese war, he turned to naturalistic fiction. He wrote novels derived more or less directly from Europe, but in his short stories he remained more genuinely Japanese. “Intimacy with nature,” says the translator, “and intimacy with life,” are felt throughout his little stories.

This story, translated by Torao Taketomo, is reprinted from the volume, Paulownia, copyright, 1918, by Duffield & Go., New York, by permission of the publisher.

A Domestic Animal

Her first misfortune was at her birth; she came into the world with short gray hair, overhanging ears, and fox-like eyes. Every animal which is called by favor domestic has a certain quality which attracts to itself the friendly feeling of man. But she did not have it. Nothing in her countenance seemed to be favored by man. She was entirely lacking in the usual qualifications of a domestic animal. Naturally she was deserted.

However, she was also a dog, an animal which cannot live by itself. She could not leave the hereditary habitat to be fed by people and then go back to the wild native place of her remote ancestors. She began to search after a suitable human house.

This troublesome being strayed to the estate of Kin san, a planter, when the building of the new wood-roofed rent house was just finished. The house was built along the village road of Okubo, located in such a manner as to enable one to go to the main street through the back yard. The floor was high and the ground was dry. Moreover, there was a narrow, dark, unoccupied space at the foot of the fence between this house and the next, so that she could promptly hide herself in emergency. She lost no time in occupying this underground refuge.

The urgent necessity was to get the food. There were two more rent houses on this estate, which made four with the farm-like main house where Kin san`s family lived. These houses stood each against the other and trees with graceful branches were between them. Her sharp nose taught her first the direction toward the kitchen.

As she was hungry, there was no time for choice. Peeled skins of fruits, cold, evil-smelling soup, corrupt remnants of dishes—she ate everything she could get. If these were not enough to satisfy her, she smelt around even the dust heap, and hunted as far as she could hunt. Some dirty socks were soaked in the wash-tub beside the well. Gladly, she drank the water from the tub.

Read More about Forebodings Two Sketches part 2