As in any detective story, we learn the events from the head and tail instead of in linear fashion. He says the man died of a single sword stroke to the chest, and that the trampled leaves around the body showed there had been a violent struggle. There were no swords nearby, and not enough room for a horse—only a single piece of rope, a comb and bloodstained bamboo blades. A traveling Buddhist priest delivers the next account. He says that he saw the man, who was accompanied by his wife on horseback, on the road, around noon the day before the murder.
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Certainly, it was I who found the body. This morning, as usual, I went to cut my daily quota of cedars, when I found the body in a grove in a hollow in the mountains. The exact location? About meters off the Yamashina stage road. The body was lying flat on its back dressed in a bluish silk kimono and a wrinkled head-dress of the Kyoto style. A single sword-stroke had pierced the breast. The fallen bamboo-blades around it were stained with bloody blossoms. No, the blood was no longer running.
The wound had dried up, I believe. And also, a gad-fly was stuck fast there, hardly noticing my footsteps. You ask me if I saw a sword or any such thing? No, nothing, sir. I found only a rope at the root of a cedar near by. That was all. Apparently he must have made a battle of it before he was murdered, because the grass and fallen bamboo-blades had been trampled down all around. Certainly, it was about noon yesterday, sir. The unfortunate man was on the road from Sekiyama to Yamashina.
He was walking toward Sekiyama with a woman accompanying him on horseback, who I have since learned was his wife. A scarf hanging from her head hid her face from view. All I saw was the color of her clothes, a lilac-colored suit.
Her horse was a sorrel with a fine mane. Oh, about four feet five inches. Since I am a Buddhist priest, I took little notice about her details. Well, the man was armed with a sword as well as a bow and arrows. And I remember that he carried some twenty odd arrows in his quiver. Little did I expect that he would meet such a fate. Truly human life is as evanescent as the morning dew or a flash of lightning.
My words are inadequate to express my sympathy for him. He is a notorious brigand called Tajomaru. When I arrested him, he had fallen off his horse. He was groaning on the bridge at Awataguchi. The time? It was in the early hours of last night. For the record, I might say that the other day I tried to arrest him, but unfortunately he escaped.
He was wearing a dark blue silk kimono and a large plain sword. And, as you see, he got a bow and arrows somewhere. You say that this bow and these arrows look like the ones owned by the dead man? Then Tajomaru must be the murderer. The bow wound with leather strips, the black lacquered quiver, the seventeen arrows with hawk feathers—these were all in his possession I believe.
Yes, Sir, the horse is, as you say, a sorrel with a fine mane. A little beyond the stone bridge I found the horse grazing by the roadside, with his long rein dangling. Surely there is some providence in his having been thrown by the horse.
In a Grove
The first section of the story comprises four testimonies given to a magistrate, a Kyoto city official who is investigating the mysterious death. The woodcutter who found the body that morning speaks first, confirming the location of the deserted bamboo grove where he found the corpse and describing the dry chest wound in detail. Next, a traveling Buddhist priest says he saw a man, a woman, and a horse the day before just after noon. To his surprise, she asked him to kill either himself or her husband, saying she would be with the one who lived. The next account comes from Masago herself, delivered as a confession in the Kiyomizu Temple.
AKUTAGAWA RYUNOSUKE IN A GROVE PDF
The woodcutter reports that man died of a single sword stroke to the chest, and that the trampled leaves around the body showed there had been a violent struggle, but otherwise lacked any significant evidence as to what actually happened. There were no weapons nearby, and no horses—only a single piece of rope, a comb and a lot of blood. The next account is delivered by a traveling Buddhist priest. He says that he met the man, who was accompanied by a woman on horseback, on the road, around noon the day before the murder. The man was carrying a sword, a bow and a black quiver. The next testimony is from an old woman, who identifies herself as the mother of the missing girl. Her daughter is a beautiful, strong-willed year-old named Masago, married to Kanazawa no Takehiro—a year-old samurai from Wakasa.