A Rich Poor Father

“A Rich Poor Father (A Man of Enterprise) ”was first published in 1936 with the title“Ohwashi ”(Giant Eagle).  In June 1941, HOKUSEIDO PRESS printed  an English translation of the short works by 6 prominent Japanese authors. “Ohwashi” was one of them.

 

 

 

A Rich Poor Father (A Man of Enterprise)

 

 

"Sir, Representative Murai telephoned you a while ago for an urgent appointment with you, and asks you to ring him up as soon as you come in."

"Sir, before you leave for Tokyo, would you not please sign this document?"

"Sir, we have a notice from the Central Bus Co. for the directors' meeting on next Tuesday.  Our directors' meeting will be on Monday.  Would you be back before then, sir?"

"Sir, would you please look over the plans for the extension of No. 3 factory?"

Furuno, the president of the Furuno Woolen Manufacturing Co., had just made his appearance in his private office.  He had his usual cigar in his mouth.  Hardly had his private secretary tiptoed to take his heavy fur-lined overcoat when the chief secretary, the paymaster, and the general manager hurried in, and made their reports almost in one breath, one after another.  But wherever he is there is always an atmosphere of apparent rush and confusion.  He likes it.

Furuno is the president, or director, of many other companies besides his own Furuno Woolen Manufacturing Co., Inc.  Although it is incorporated, in reality, it is his own private concern.  The clerks and workingmen are like his own private employees.  Whenever he comes back to his private office he feels relief, rest and comfort.   Employees also feel the home-coming of their family head.

"Representative Murai is in town, is he?  What brought him back home, I wonder? The Diet is not over yet.  Got scared about the rumor of dissolution of the Diet and back home for the war chest for next election?  Never mind, telephone to him.  I am too busy.  I have got only ten minutes for the train.  Ring up the house, will you?  Is this the total production for last week?"

He is in the habit of beginning his day's work before he sits in his chair.

"Tell them I'll be present at the directors' meeting next Tuesday.  I'll be back before then.  For tomorrow?  Wait until tomorrow comes. . .  By the way, tell Kondo, the shoemaker to come up.  He is in the lobby downstairs."

"Phone? People certainly don't give me any rest."

"Hello!  Is this you?  No?  Where is Mrs. Furuno?  What?  Went to the Mothers' Meeting again?  My goodness, has she got to go?  Where is Miss Furuno?  Ask her to pack up the satchel as usual for the trip to Tokyo, and bring it at once.  Get me?"

"I'll take these blue-prints with me and study them over in the train.  What do you think, had we not better put off construction for a while on account of the price of steel?"

"Here comes Kondo!  I know your father well.  He was a switchman of our Central Electric Railroad Co.  He was a fine fellow and worked faithfully for us.  Opened a shoe shop, did you say?  That's fine.  You can do the business right now.  Can you make a pair of shoes exactly like this?  The price is not the question.  Charge me as high as you like.  I liked your father, and don't mind paying high to his son."  Then he turned to others in the office.  "Say, when you fellows buy shoes, give your orders to this man, hear me?"

"Did I get any answer from the Nagoya Bank?  Not yet?   I wonder what the president is doing there?  What?  Telephone again?  Who?  Representative Murai?  What does he want?"

"Hello, Mr. Murai!  Yes! but I've got to catch the train in ten minutes.  I am in a rush. . .  I can wait for you, if it does not take long."

"Yes!  You can take the measurement right now.  That hurts.  Are you sticking a needle in my foot?"

"Are you suffering from rheumatism again, sir?"

"No, I haven't got time for such an extra-complication, Kondo!  These shoes are made in Tokyo.  See how easy and comfortable they are made!  I want you to make me a pair like this.  While you are here, you had better get orders from other fellows and take their measurements before they change their minds.  Tell them I told you to."

Then he turned to his general manager.

"I want you to take entire charge of the business without consulting me for the next four weeks at least, that is, you know, until the time when we have to mix the staple fiber.  And I want you to show me what you have.  I'll be too busy to meddle with anything.  I wonder what Murai wants!  Would it be about the amalgamation of the Central Bus and the City Bus?  I will trust you about this document and will sign without going over it.

"Kondo!  The paymaster knows about these shoes.  You can get paid from the paying teller."

The attention of Furuno expands like the tentacles of an octopus, and his mind and thoughts are directed to unexpected corners.  Even when he has the receiver in his hand he talks to a man on his right or carries on a conference with a man at his left, and at the same time may O.K. a document.  He is also well versed in various matters besides his own business.  Often he calculates the number of the passengers of Central Electric Car Co. of which he is the president, or discusses the new technique for the Central Machinery Co.  Frequently the chief of the section is taken by surprise with his technical knowledge.

"I think you had better make some sort of arrangement with Mano and Hirai before Murai comes here."  He addressed his chief secretary and turned toward the paymaster.

"The chief clerks of Central Electric Car Co. are going to invite one of the administration officers of the Ministry of Railways to Nagoya.  I want you to be there with them and watch their movements.  The guys in the government offices these days are great pretensionist.  They think they are like samurai of old days, but let me tell you they don't have the guts.  This new administration officer, it is said, likes to play Shogi (Japanese chess).  You better keep that in your mind."

He again turned toward his secretary.

"Did you tell me that Mano could not be reached and Hirai is still in Tokyo?  What good can they do to me when I need them most?  Ring up my wife then."

Furuno furnished the election chest for Mano and Hirai, and both got elected.  They naturally work for the interest of Furuno.  Since they are not in the town, there is no way of guessing the object of the visit of Murai who is branch-manager of their political party.  Murai's visit has never brought any luck to Furuno in the past.  He wants to start off on the trip right then but the satchel has not arrived yet.

He took up the receiver.  "Yes!  How about the satchel?  Is on the way, you say? Good!  Where is Mrs. Furuno?  Went to the station to send off the soldiers?  Is she coming by this way?  Tell her she can go to North China or Shanghai or any place with soldiers, if she likes.  I want the satchel, that's all."

"Well, well, Mr. Murai!  It is some time since I had the pleasure of seeing

you last. Please come in.  I am quite busy just now, though.  I am

supposed to take the train in ten minutes.  Never mind him, Mr. Murai,

he is one of our men. …  You don't mean to say that there is danger that

the Diet may be dissolved?  The budget bill has passed and the

government has got all it wants.  It can become nasty if it wants to."

Then he turned to his secretary, "Ask for the car, will you?"

"I for the next election, Mr. Murai?  You are not joking, I hope. ..  I am a plain businessman.  The politics for politicians and business for businessmen.  If business steps with politics. …"

"What!  My daughter?  Ask her to come in.  I was waiting for her.     Representative Murai, this is my eldest daughter.  She is twenty-four now.  I guess I have more interesting things to tell you than my going into politics.  I would like to find a good husband for her.  She is a graduate of the Women's College, and quite different from me, she is actually bright.  The only trouble I can see with her is that she is too much of a bookworm. She is not bad-looking, is she?  May I not ask you to help us to find a suitable man for her?"

Haruko paid courteous homage to Representative Murai but apparently the situation made her shy.  Not being able to find a seat, she slowly moved toward the window, still holding the satchel in her hand, and looking at her father's face.

The lustrous complexion, a determined face, and distinguished gray hair of her father was quite a contrast to the shiny bald head, and empty yet malicious expression of Murai.  She thought if her father only knew how to keep his lips closed, what a grand personage he would be!  Her eyes met those of her father's when he lifted his face to look toward her.  The light of his eyes was dim.  The unbecoming utterances which came out of her father's mouth sounded to her like the echo of an unclean soul.  His fat and robust physique seemed to her a mass of decaying flesh.  She shuddered.  Her eyes travelled over the gray walls which were covered with figures, statistics and business reports.  The ghosts of profits and dividends seemed to creep from all corners and nooks; and they were charming her father and sharpening his tongue while he smiled.  If there were some flowers on one of these tables, she thought, her father might understand things better and become quiet.  Not knowing what was passing in his daughter's mind, Furuno's loosened tongue kept going.

"… A businessman like me who spends all his time and energy in counting dollars and cents, and in the end he may lose all he has; and at this very time when the munition factories are working more than twenty-fours a day, it is a crime to play politics.  To become a candidate?  Not me, sir!  Then, too, the Diet has not been dissolved yet. Let us change the subject. . . By the way when are you going back to Tokyo again?  This evening?"

"Haruko!  Can't you find a seat?  Sit down.  Representative Murai advises me to run for the election.  To become a member of the Diet, ha! ha!  Would it give you better prestige for your marriage?"  Then turning to his secretary, "What do you think of it?

Of course this is confidential."

"Mr. Murai!  May I make you a present of a pair of shoes?  The same kind I am wearing now."

"Will you go downstairs and see if Kondo is still there?"   he said turning to his secretary.

"His father," Furuno continued, "worked for us for forty years.  His son makes better shoes than Takahashi in Tokyo.  Try this pair, if you don't mind."

"What?  You came here, too.  It looks like a family reunion.  Representative Murai, this is my wife, Mrs. Furuno.  Yes, I am leaving for Tokyo and am pretty busy. "

Mrs. Furuno was wearing a black cotton garment marked with the family crest, and had a small badge of the national flag on her breast.  She was breathing hard.  While she was attending the directors' meeting of the Red Cross Society, she received a phone message from home.  Her husband was staying with his woman and had not been home for four days.  After sending the soldiers off for the front, she hurried to the office, though she feared that she might be too late to catch her husband.  She saw, however, the usual Packard in front of the office building on one side of the narrow street.   Expecting to hear his sharp tongue because she was late, she stepped up as quickly as her sandals remained on her feet.  She saw more than her husband.  Mr. Murai and her daughter were there.  Relief after the tension made her lose her speech for a moment.  She stood at the entrance and bowed.

Mr. Murai needs no introduction to Mrs. Furuno.  They are well acquainted with each other.  Both of them are always invited to the weddings of well-known families in the city.  And they are invariably made to sit at the main table.  Therefore, although it was a casual introduction of Mr. Furuno, she thought there must be something up her husband's sleeve.  She knew her husband too well.  He did not do even a trifling thing without some calculation.  Whenever she failed to take precautions on his plans, she always missed the point and was blamed.  She was not able to read the design of her husband, nor was she able to obtain any hint from her daughter's expression.

"Why is she here in her house dress?"  Mrs. Furuno thought.  "I wish she had at least her haori coat on.  I have been telling her all the time to be particular about her toilet when she goes out, yet she has put on no powder.  And she is here among men.  I wonder what that child has in her mind?"  All these thoughts rushed to Mrs. Furuno's mind one after another.  She quietly sat by her daughter. Haruko was sitting there like a stone image.  Her mother sighed a little, and thought again.  "Why is Haruko so stupid?  Why does she keep silence even to her own mother?  I have no idea what is in her own mind.  My husband?  It is a wonder that he does not evaporate from exhaustion to judge by the vocabulary of his constant conversation.  He must have a big hollow in his heart."

"Kondo!  I want you to make Mr. Murai's shoes very carefully.  What?  A reporter? Tell him I have left for Tokyo already.  By the way Mr. Murai, I would like to talk about that matter after the Diet is dissolved.  I think there is time enough for that.   Don't you think so?  The urgent matter is the marriage of my daughter, Mr. Murai. I wish you'd keep that in your mind."

Mrs. Furuno came to the door to send Murai off.  When Furuno came back to his own chair, he stretched both feet on the table and frowned, apparently thinking hard.  There was a moment of dead silence.  Mrs.Furuno felt somewhat uneasy, fearing that a thunder of rage might at any time break out, as it had often done before.  She watched his face without moving a muscle.  All of a sudden he burst out in a hearty laugh, and made everybody in the office jump.

"He is a member of the Diet, but he certainly does not know what he is talking about." Then he turned to his secretary.  "No more express train before three, is it?  That is my luck.  If there are any more papers to sign bring them in.  If not I'd better be starting now.  Ring up Mr. Nagata of the Central Machinery Co. and tell him I'll take the 3 o'clock train.  He will be on the same train with me then.  A retired army officer, a colonel, will be my body guard.  Isn't that grand?  Times have changed.  An army officer rides in the first class.  I, however, can not ask him to wear the uniform.  Before the train time I may stop at the Bus Co.  Do you think I'll have time enough to do that?"  He then turned toward his wife and daughter as if he saw them for the first time.

"Were you here all this time?  Haruko, for goodness sake, I wish you would make-up a little better!  Please don't wear a hard-time-look all the time.  Don't worry about the expense of your make-up.  I'll work hard to meet all your expenses.  I don't like the high-school teacher to look at you."

The big laugh of her husband sounded to Mrs. Furuno like pouring cold water on the back of Murai, and she was almost shaking with fear as to what might have been going between them before she came in.  She did not know the detail of their conversation, but noticed that Murai was playing with the collar of his coat, and his fingers were shaking nervously.  Sometimes he was biting his lip and his eyes were set.  His usual gay expression was cloudy.  The manner in which he took his leave appeared to her very cold.  "Was he displeased?  Did my husband make another enemy?"  Murai was not only the branch-manager of his party but also the owner of a local paper.  She saw her daughter move toward the window without a word, apparently she was mad about something.  Mrs. Furuno wanted to soothe her husband and cautiously said,

"Mr. Murai is always very kind to us and helps our Mothers' Meeting…"

"Yes?  I asked him a favour about Haruko.  By the way, do we still have a photograph of Haruko?  I guess we had better have a new one taken, a good one, too.  In Tokyo I'll see the Minister of Commerce and Industry, and I'll ask for his favour about her, too.  It will keep me busy, I'm afraid."  He turned to his secretary.

"You had better listen to an experienced father like me.  It is not easy to be a father. The eldest son talks about nothing but belles-lettres.  He is nearly forty years old and cannot make his own living.  Have you ever read the stuff called belles-lettres?   Does it mean trash novels?  As to the daughter, I don't know what to make of her.   The only thing she ever does is to gaze up at heaven.  My wife, she is just as busy as I am, and I very seldom meet her.  If it is not the Women's Auxiliary then it will be sending off of the soldiers.  She is a genius at spending money.  I alone work my lone hand; I supply their needs.  Now, I am ready for the train.  Ouch! The d-d rheumatism!  I have no time to bother about it, yet the cursed thing stays with me.   Apparently it is the only close companion I have in this world."

"What would you think, if I become a member of the Diet?  Do you think you could be a wife of a Representative?  Ha ! ha! a wife of a representative!  Wouldn't that be grand, wouldn't that give you grand prestige?  Ha! ha!"

"Aren't you going to see your father off at the station?"  asked Mrs. Furuno.

Haruko shook her head in silence, and came down to the street with the crowd and slipped into her mother's car.  There she shut her eyes.

Although Mrs. Furuno questioned the wisdom of her daughter for not seeing her father off, a mingled feeling of pity and contempt for her husband's extravagant foolishness was surging in her heart.

Furuno usually takes two or three trips a month to Tokyo.  And at each trip, his secretaries, head of each department and others followed him to the station as if he were leaving for abroad.  They seemed to think that the oftener they saw him off, the more favorably he regarded them.  In a business run with machinelike precision, the ability of a department head does not shine as a personal merit.  If there is any recognition of personal merit it is always measured by the fancy of the president.  The salary, bonus and position always moved up and down according to his fancy.

…Haruko knew all these things and felt so sorry for the men in the office that she could not look them in the face.  The chief secretary, for example, a man of robust physique and a holder of a ranking meritorial honor of the second grade in Judo, also a graduate of a university with the degree of bachelor of law, had three children.  Yet this man followed her father like a cur.  The paymaster with his gold-rimmed spectacles, whose ability to play Shogi was generally recognized, came to her father's house to play the game, but he purposely made mistakes in the movement of the men and gave the game to her father, with a humble smile and gesture.

He wore the same gesture and smile even in the office.  The general manager with his bald head was no exception.  All hail for the president!  All cheered him.  She thought, "Why do they not stand up to her father with their own personalities?  Why can they not show their individuality?"  "Yet I cannot blame them," she reflected.  "It is all father's doing."  The self-aggrandizement and lack of consideration on the part of her father perhaps had ruined these would-be respectful attitudes.

"Why did I not see father off, mother?  You should have seen him off, instead of me, Mother."

"I do not want to embarrass Otsune-san.  She is with father," replied Mrs. Furuno.

"All the more, mother, you should have gone to Tokyo with father," said Haruko.

"How can I humiliate myself so!"  was her mother's reply.

When Haruko pictured in her mind the procession, her father with a big and heavy gold chain on his chest taking his woman in the train for Tokyo, noisily surrounded by the men of the office, it gave a sharp and piercing pain to her heart.

"Of course you cannot go to the station with such a plain and shabby house-dress. People may think I am forcing you to be like that as if I am a stepmother.  I wish you would pay more attention to your appearance, and make yourself look more attractive," complained Mrs. Furuno.

"But mother, people admire you so much because you dress plainly, and your manners are so simple," said Haruko.

"I am different from you and should remain so, otherwise I would feel very uncomfortable, since your father never thinks of others.  But you are a woman who has a future.  You must think of your marriage, too," said Mrs. Furuno.

The car started out slowly through the narrow street for home.  The women folks at the doorsteps were whispering, "There goes Mrs. Furuno in the car; look at her dress.  Even the wife of a president dresses plainly like that.  We should be following her example according to our circumstances."

The streets they passed through were filled with the families of factory

hands. Whenever there was a case of sickness or accident Mrs. Furuno was always there with her plain appearance and kindly, easy manners.  Often the local papers reported her as an ideal wife and good mother.  But of late Haruko began to feel a little doubt about her mother, and to wonder whether there was any merit in her seeming goodwill and kindness toward these people.  She questioned whether she was not pulling wool over other public eyes to cover up what her father did in typhoon fashion.  "Is what mother does coming really from love and reflection of her virtue?"  she questioned.

When Haruko was quite young her mother used to tell her not to forget that they had been poor before.  Then she dressed her hair in any old way, and wore plain dresses. To-day she was never too busy to help the women's auxiliary or charity organizations.  Especially after the present conflict began, she had never failed to see the soldiers off at the station, and the families of soldiers were always in her mind, even in her sleep.  She visited them often.  She even tried to be friendly with the woman her husband kept in open secret.  When that woman gave birth to a child, Mrs. Furuno took the baby as if it were her own.  Yet all these things appeared to Haruko as if her mother were putting up a big show simply to attract public attention to herself.  People often took a critical attitude against her father, but never against her mother.  They all praised her to the skies.  Sometimes people even praised her mother in the presence of her proud father.  Although Furuno treated his wife as if she were a worn-out pair of socks, when heard such praise, he joined with them and said that he, too, thought she was a rare woman.  Haruko sometimes could not help asking herself the question as to how far they loved each other and how much of their lives was a part of the show.

"When I was your age, it was a great treat to have a new obi(Japanese sash)," her mother continued.

"Mother!  You never have tried to look into the innermost part of the heart of the young woman of today," answered Haruko.

"I am worried, Haruko, because no one will offer his hand to you, if you remain as you are," said her mother.

"Mother!  Do you ever think that any man cares for a daughter whose father keeps several women in open secret besides his own wife?"  Haruko retorted.

"But people say we are a happy family," the mother assured.

"A happy family!  Remember, mother, they are sticking out their tongues behind our backs," Haruko replied in disgust.

Haruko wanted to be left alone, as a simple and single human being.  She pitied her parents who were so anxious for her marriage.  Her mother appeared to Haruko as an advertising agent.  She distributed Haruko's photographs among all her friends and acquaintance, as if they were posters.  In her thirty years of marriage, the life of her mother had been nothing but that of a slave.  Had there ever been a moment when she had found happiness in her married life?  Once she surprised Haruko by telling her that if it had not been for the sake of the children she would have committed suicide.  Was it because she was so unhappy with her husband?  Was it for the reason that she had discovered her married life to be a failure?  She seems to be living like a slave under the blind law of duty, and under the bondage of duty she had forsaken love.  Love was a dead and buried thing so far as her mother was concerned.  "Have I ever heard sweet, motherly words from mother, I wonder?" she reflected.  Her mother had suffered untold miseries in her married life.  She was still under the same bondage and still continuing her suffering.  And yet her mother was looking for a man for her daughter.  "Is mother trying to push her daughter off a cliff into a horrible abyss, to make the daughter a duplicate of her mother?"  She was more puzzled about her father.  The man who hitherto had not, in the least, been interested in the home and the children had changed all of a sudden, and told her to be careful in her appearance, or have more photographs taken.  He began to take an interest in young men.  He began to select one as if he were going to get married.  It became a part of his business.  She felt uneasy.  Suppose her father selected a man for her as mechanically as he carried on his business?  She well realized that under the circumstances there was no possibility for a free marriage.  At any rate, if she was ever going to get married she wanted to select her own husband, otherwise she did not think that she could stand the life as she saw it lived by her mother everyday.  She knew she was no saint like her mother.

The car slowed down and stopped at the front door. Haruko had a few more things in her mind.  She had apparently forgotten the chauffeur.  She wanted to say more about her father.  She was burning with anger and was also filled with sadness.

Furuno did not take his woman with him to Tokyo.  His mind was filled with business matters.  He has to see the government officials in connection with various companies of which he was the president.  He also had to meet financiers on the matter of the conversion of the loan.  The moment he stepped into the separate establishment where he kept his woman, he was not thinking of her, nor did he recall the evenings when he enjoyed Japanese music played by her delicate fingers.  His mind was occupied with the new loan with 4.3 per cent interest.  As soon as he had sent Representative Murai off from his office he forgot about the election.  He was wondering then whether or not the Treasury Department would grant the increase of capital of the Central Machinery Co.  His heart was beating, business, business.  Those who came to the station to see him off were not individuals to him.  They are but a part of a system, a ledger of each department.  He did not want to part from the machinery of business until the last moment, until the train separated him from them.  That's why he took great pleasure in being seen off by them.

"Mr. Furuno!  Representative Murai is on this train."

"Yes?  I wish you would take care of him.  I am too sleepy and can hardly open my eyes."

Murai just caught the train in time.  Furuno saw this before his attention was called to it, and he cursed his luck inaudibly.  He asked Colonel Nagata to entertain Murai, and he shut his eyes in an armchair in the observation car; thus he thought he might avoid any conversation with Murai until the train pulled into Tokyo.  He could not guess what Murai was aiming at when he told Furuno to run as a candidate even before the Diet was dissolved.  Furthermore, he did not wish Murai to find out whether he was interested in the proposition, or even indifferent to it.  He wanted to remain, so far as Murai was concerned, a blank sheet at least for the time being.  Murai came into the observation car and took his seat in front of Furuno by the time the train passed the sacred grove of Atsuta Shrine.  Furuno introduced Colonel Nagata to Murai and made them talk.  He closed his eyes, but his ears were alert.

In his pretended sleep, he was thinking hard.  He did not mind making his usual contribution to the political party in case of the dissolution of the Diet, though the political parties had become so powerless recently, and chances for power were slipping away from them.  If it was for a contribution the matter was simple, and this he knew well.  He also knew that if it were for a contribution Murai would not be following him so persistently as he was doing now.  He must have another trump besides the election business.  Murai should know that his sole interest was in business, and he had no ambition or taste for politics.  He had even told him that it was a disgrace for a business man to put his finger in the political pie.  "When a newly appointed Minister of State comes to Atsuta Shrine to worship and report his appointment, the businessmen of the city welcome him," he said to himself.  "I keep away from such gatherings to show how indifferent I am to the matter of politics.  Yet Murai brings a fairy-tale to me and talks about my being a candidate.  Where is the trick, I wonder."

Furuno looked out of the corner of his eye carelessly just for a second.  He saw Murai's bald head perspirating from the heat of the steam.  Murai was watching Furuno.  He started to talk to him.  Furuno took no notice of Murai or his talk, pretending as if he had opened his eye unconsciously because of a sudden jerk of the train.  

While Furuno was playing possum, we may review his career.  While Nagoya was yet a small city of 300,000 population he closed his law office and went into the business world.  Fortunately for a provincial city Nagoya is located midway between Tokyo and Osaka.  The advantages of transportation, low wages and an ample supply of raw materials made her a distributing center of this region.  Various industries sprang up in quick succession, and factories were being built one after another.  To-day her population exceeds the million mark and she has become the second largest industrial city after Osaka.  He took advantage of the time and found himself a successful man of enterprise.  His success was primarily prompted by his inborn desire for wealth, and to that end he invested at the time when capitalism began to take I root in the economic system of Japan.  The time was ripe for his investment, though the amount was small, and there appeared a small whirlpool around him.  Though the whirlpool was small, it had gathered a great deal of capital and men.  It began to expand.  The men around him supplied the labor and brain, offered technique and money.  They all helped him and made the whirlpool big.  The Central Electric Car Co. as a consequence came to possess next to the longest mileage in track of the private lines, and opened the way for the industrialization of the farming districts.  The Central Machinery Co. sent its products to the frontiers of Manchoukuo and North China.  The Furuno Woolen Manufacturing Co. found its markets in South China and even in India.  His success, however, demanded many sacrifices in labor, brain and even souls.  And Furuno never meditated on such sacrifices.  He thought he had won success by his own power and ability.

Murai watched Furuno in his pretended sleep and thought that Furuno wanted no party politics in his whirlpool.  What he was trying to bring into his sphere of endeavor was the backing of the government officials and the clique.  Colonel Nagata, for example, since he was a retired army officer, became the companion of this capitalist.  Murai then recalled the time how eagerly Furuno had sought for the influence of party politics in the past, and how coldly he turned his back upon them now.  Murai's malicious smile, if Furuno observed, may have revealed the evil design in his eyes.  Murai was thinking within himself, "I'll make him pay dearly for this," and was figuring on the large sum for the party contribution which would be imposed upon Furuno.

Furuno appeared to be sleeping very comfortably, but his mind was very busy.  "What is the gain if I become a member of the Diet?" he thought.  "If a businessman becomes a member of a political party, it will ruin his business.  Especially to-day, when 'the time is out of joint.'  The farther he stays away from politics, the better it is for the business."  Yet he thought again.  "Suppose I become a member of the Diet?   Even Murai has the privilege of the Imperial invitation.  Cherries may bloom in a few weeks.  There will be the Imperial visit to the Shinjuku Imperial Garden.  The members of the Diet will be granted the honor.  The members may sometimes be invited to some court functions in the Imperial Palace."  He thought he would like to have such a privilege at least once in his life.  Such a hope was very remote then but it seemed to have come within his grasp.

When he thought of these things, he realized it was not a good moment to meditate on such matters by pretending to be asleep.  He straightened his body and sat up.  At the Imperial invitation for cherry blossoms and chrysanthemum, his wife would also be granted the privilege.  "My wife has stood by me through thick and thin ever since we were married.  She has endured hardships without a murmur.  Often I was very unreasonable to her.  If I can give her the chance of such a grand occasion, would it not make her happy?   Would she not be compensated in some degree?  To become a candidate at the next election may not, after all, be a bad idea."

While Furuno's thoughts were running over these possibilities which seemed to be within his reach, the train was speeding past the fruits orchards on one side, and on the other side he could see the white caps of the blue expanse of the sea dashing against the rocks.  A friend of his, a member of the Rotary Club, once remarked to him on the beauty of this part of the country, and said even the Côte d'Azur of France could not surpass it.  He had not been to Europe yet and could not compare this scene, but knew that it was about the place where Mt. Fuji should come in sight.  He began to picture that sacred mountain.  The snow cap might be shining in the evening sun, it might be throwing a graceful reflection on the water below.  Carelessly he looked out the window.   The ever present Murai turned toward him to talk.  Quickly Furuno closed his eyes again and snored a little.

Why was Murai so persistent, he thought.  "What would be the gain if I put my hat in the ring?  Is my running so important and necessary for the party?  He may have a big demand to make in exchange for the party's nomination of his candidacy.  I will send around Mano and Hirai to spy out what is his stake.  I may also see the president of the party."  He thought that before Murai could catch him in a nap, he would turn the tables on him.  The joke would be on him.  When he thought of this, he was about to break into laughter.  Murai was still there, and showed no sign of giving up.  If Murai was going to stay there so persistently, he would show him he was his match.  He decided to sleep 360 kilometers in earnest.

In his doze Furuno almost jumped with joy.  He had a new idea, a new hope.  He did not have to become a member of the Diet in order to have the Imperial invitation.  "If I become a member of the House of Peers," he said to himself, "I will be granted the same privileges.  Why did I not think of it before?  It was very stupid of me.  A member of the Upper House does not have to become a politician.  I will run for that in the next election in the capacity of the highest-tax-payer."  This settled everything for him and he began to feel at ease.  And he felt so sure of the result, and was feeling as if he had actually become a member in dream-like drowsiness.  The shabby looking figure of Murai which was still nailed to the chair in front of him gradually was transformed into the image of his attendant.  The five hours during which the engine puffed out steam to cover the distance between the two cities was too short for him to enjoy this grand dream.

 

Translated by Hatsu Imajo  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SERISAWA Kojiro
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SERISAWA Kojiro

Novelist. May 4, 1896~March 23, 1993. Born at Sunto-county (Currently Numazu City), Shizuoka Prefecture. Graduating from Tokyo Imperial University in 1922, he  continued his study on Economic at Sorbonne. Shortly after completion of his thesis, he suffered from tuberculosis, and had to receive treatment in Switzerland. In 1930, he turned to become a novelist and made his debut with Bourgeois(Burujoa). In 1939, his next significant work was  published, A Book of Love and Death (Ai to Shi no Sho)which was written about the background of the impending war. In 1942 , the midst of the Second World War, he wrote Died in Paris(Pari ni Shisu), where he urged to respect and conserve the vital value of human life. One World(Hitotsu no Sekai) 1952, described and deplored devastation and destruction brought upon human life by atomic bomb, which was translated into French and highly appreciated in Europe. Fate of Man(Ningen no Unmei) revealed the life of a man against the backdrops of the fast-changing and turbulent society of Japan.  For this work, Serisawa was given the Prize of Japan Art Academy. His contribution to cultural exchange between France and Japan brought him an honorable Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He served as the 5th President of the Japan P.E.N. Club from 1965 to1974.

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