The Pillow Book,
The Pillow Book,
The priest was in his early thirties and quite handsome. Over his gray habit he wore a fine silk stole—altogether the effect was magnificent. Cooling himself with a clove-scented fan, he recited the Magic Incantation of the Thousand Hands. I gathered that someone in the house was seriously ill, for now a heavily built girl with a splendid head of hair edged her way into the room. Clearly this was the medium to whom the evil spirit was going to be transferred. She was wearing an unlined robe of stiff silk and long, light-colored trousers.
When the girl had sat down next to the priest in front of a small three-foot curtain of state, he turned round and handed her a thin, highly polished wand. Then with his eyes tightly shut, he began to read the mystic incantations, his voice coming out in staccato bursts as he uttered the sacred syllables. After a short time the medium began to tremble, and she fell into a trance. It was awesome indeed to see how the priest’s incantations were steadily taking effect. By the Hour of the Monkey, the priest had brought the spirit under control and, having forced it to beg for mercy, he now dismissed it. At this point a lady of noble rank, evidently a member of the family, edged her way up to the priest’s curtain of state and said, “We are most grateful for you visit, Your Reverence. Our patient looked as if she might well succumb to the evil spirit, but she is now on her way to recovery.”
“I fear we are dealing with a very obstinate spirit,” the priest replied briefly, “and we must not be off our guard. I am pleased that what I did today has helped the patient.” So saying, he took his leave with an air of such dignity that everyone felt the Buddha himself had appeared on earth.