Nagare no akatsuki (Dawn at the River)

Dawn at the River

流れの暁 [Nagare no Akatsuki]

Date of first narration: 1891.  Origin unknown.

A tragic romance which deals with the disintegration of a family as the result of retributive justice. It is a colorful, but complicated story of an aristocrat taking refuge in London from the French Revolution, his ugly wife, their twin sons (one of whom is thrown into the Thames, but is fortunately rescued by a fisherman), embezzlement, blackmail, and execution.

(Source: Morioka and Sasaki)

Nagare no akatsuki is a tale of the aristocrat, Baron Sawanabe who seeks asylum in England where he becomes a teacher of French and marries a farmer’s daughter, Osen. Shortly after, Napoleon takes over in France and the baron returns to his home country. Osen bears twins, but fraught with financial difficulties, throws one of the twins, Jôji, into the Thames. Jôji is rescued by a fisherman and later works honestly as a clerk for a money-lender, but 20 years later encounters his good-for-nothing brother. Pressed for money by the brother, he begins embezzling money from his boss. His crime is in danger of being discovered, so while the owner is convalescing in the country, Jôji kills his brother with a poisoned drink and makes it appear as if he himself has committed suicide over the loss of the money by faking a will and substituting his brother’s body for himself. He then takes 10,000 yen and makes his escape. The money-lender returns and unaware of the ruse, holds a funeral. But a detective notices that the skin on the body’s hands and feet are tough and thinks this is unusual in light of the easy work the clerk performed. Jôji goes to France, where his falling in love with his half-sister without realising who she really is becomes the catalyst for his arrest and confession of his past misdemeanors, whereupon he is sentenced. On that occasion, he meets his father and reproves him for abandoning his mother, Osen, causing the father to feel remorse. The father reunites with Osen and the two again become husband and wife.

(Source: Itô)