Saint of Mt. Koya
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19

" 'Why yes,' I said, 'At the fork in the road at the foot of the mountains I met a medicine peddler from Toyama. He came up this road ahead of me.'

" 'Ah, so that's it,' said the woman with a smile as though I had just explained something to her. Her smile deepened and became almost a smirk of satisfaction as she looked again at the horse.

"The woman seemed quite open to conversation, so I ventured to ask, 'Didn't you see the peddler? He must have come right by here since this is the only road.'

" 'Why no,' she said. 'I saw no sign of him.' Once again she assumed an air of formality, so I did not pursue the subject. The woman was now looking at the old man who was standing in front of the horse patiently dusting himself off. 'Sorry the horse acted up,' she said. 'I guess there is no other way. She began to roughly undo her sash and when it dangled and began dragging in the dirt, she paused to tuck it up.

" 'Ah, ah,' cried the idiot boy in a husky voice. He reached out his arms as though clutching for her loosened sash. She gave it to him and he spread it in his lap and folded it and devoted all his attention to it as though protecting a thing of great value. Meanwhile, the woman, clutching the front of her kimono closed beneath her breasts, quietly left the house and approached the horse.


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Intangible