Zenkaithe son of a samuraijourneyed to Edo and there became the retainer of a high official. He fell in love with the official's wife and was discovered. In self-defencehe slew the official. Then he ran away with the wife.
Both of them later became thieves. But the woman was so greedy that Zenkai grew disgusted. Finallyleaving herhe journeyed far away to the province of Buzenwhere he became a wandering mendicant.
To atone for his pastZenkai resolved to accomplish some good deed in his lifetime. Knowing of a dangerous road over a cliff that had caused death and injury to many personshe resolved to cut a tunnel through the mountain there.
Begging food in the daytimeZenkai worked at night digging his tunnel. When thirty years had gone bythe tunnel was 2280 feet long20 feet highand 30 feet wide.
Two years before the work was completedthe son of the official he had slainwho was a skillful swordsmanfound Zenkai out and came to kill him in revenge.
I will gived you my life willingly,said Zenkai. "Only let me finish this work. On the day it is completedthen you may kill me."
So the son awaited the day. Several months passed and Zenkai kept digging. The son grew tired of doing nothing and began to help with the digging. After he had helped for more than a yearhe came to admire Zenkai's strong will and character.
At last the tunnel was completed and the people could use it and travel safely.
Now cut off my head,said Zenkai. "My work is done."
How can I cut off my own teacher's head?asked the younger man with tears in his eyes.