Part 5 out of 7
kiss indiscriminately their fathers, mothers, wives, mistresses,
cousins and aunts. Every kiss sends a shiver down the spine of a
Japanese observer of either sex, as we should be shocked by the crude
exhibition of an obscene gesture. For this blossoming of our buds of
affection suggests to him, with immediate and detailed clearness, that
other embrace of which in his mind it is the inseparable concomitant.
The Japanese find the excuse that foreigners know no better, just as
we excuse the dirty habits of natives. But they quote the kiss as an
indisputable proof of the lowness of our moral standard, and as a sign
of the guilt, not of individuals so much as of our whole civilisation.
"Foreign people kiss too much," said cousin Sadako, "it is a bad
thing. If I had a husband, I would always fear he kiss somebody else."
"That is why I am so happy with Geoffrey," said Asako, "I know he
would never love any one but me."
"It is not safe to be so sure," said her cousin darkly, "a woman is
made for one man, but a man is made for many women."
Asako, arrayed in a Japanese kimono, and to all appearance as Japanese
as her cousin, was sitting in the Fujinami tea-parlour. She had not
understood much of the lesson in tea-ceremony at which she had just
assisted. But the exceeding propriety and dignity of the teacher, the
daughter of great people fallen upon evil days, had impressed her. She
longed to acquire that tranquillity of deportment, that slow graceful
poise of hand and arm, that low measured speech. When the teacher
had gone, she began to mimic her gestures with all the seriousness of
Sadako laughed. She supposed that her cousin was fooling. Asako
thought that she was amused by her clumsiness.
"I shall never be able to do it," she sighed.
"But of course you will. I laugh because you are so like Kikuye San."
Kikuye San was their teacher.
"If only I could practise by myself!" said Asako, "but at the hotel it
would be impossible."
Then they both laughed together at the incongruity of rehearsing those
dainty rites of old Japan in the over-furnished sitting-room at
the Imperial Hotel, with Geoffrey sitting back in his arm-chair and
puffing at his cigar.
"If only I had a little house like this," said Asako.
"Why don't you hire one?" suggested her cousin.
Why not? The idea was an inspiration. So Asako thought; and she
broached the matter to Geoffrey that very evening.
"Wouldn't it be sweet to have a ducky little Japanese house all our
very own?" she urged.
"Oh yes," her husband agreed, wearily, "that would be great sport."
Mr. Fujinami Gentaro was delighted at the success of his daughter's
diplomacy. He saw that this plan for a Japanese house meant a further
separation of husband and wife, a further step towards recovery of
his errant child. For he was beginning to regard Asako with parental
sentiment, and to pity her condition as the wife of this coarse
Miss Sadako was under no such altruistic delusions. She envied her
cousin. She envied her money, her freedom, and her frank happiness.
She had often pondered about the ways of Japanese husbands and wives;
and the more she thought over the subject, the more she envied Asako
her happy married life. She envied her with a woman's envy, which
seeks to hurt and spoil. She was smarting from her own disappointment;
and by making her cousin suffer, she thought that she could assuage
her own grief. Besides, the intrigue in itself interested her, and
provided employment for her idolent existence and her restless mind.
Of affection for Asako she had none at all, but then she had no
affection for anybody. She was typical of a modern Japanese womanhood,
which is the result of long repression, loveless marriages and sudden
Asako thought her charming, because she had not yet learned to
discern. She confided to her all her ideas about the new house; and
together the two girls explored Tokyo in the motor-car which Ito
provided for them, inspecting properties.
Asako had already decided that her home was to be on the bank of the
river, where she could see the boats passing, something like the house
in which her father and mother had lived. The desired abode was found
at last on the river-bank at Mukojima just on the fringe of the city?
where the cherry-trees are so bright in Springtime, where she could
see the broad Sumida river washing her garden steps, the fussy little
river boats puffing by, the portly junks, the crews of students
training for their regattas, and, away on the opposite bank, the trees
of Asakusa, the garish river restaurants so noisy at nightfall, the
tall peaceful pagoda, the grey roofs and the red plinths of the temple
of the Goddess of Mercy.
Just when the new home was ready for occupation, just when Asako's
enthusiasm was at its height and the purchases of silken bedding and
dainty trays were almost complete, Geoffrey suddenly announced his
intention of leaving Japan.
"I can't stick it any longer," he said fretfully, "I don't know what's
coming over me."
"Leave Japan?" cried his wife, aghast.
"Well, I don't know," grunted her husband, "it's no good stopping here
and going all to seed."
The rainy season was just over, the hot season of steaming rain
which the Japanese call _nyubai_. It had played havoc with Geoffrey's
nerves. He had never known anything so unpleasant as this damp,
relaxing heat. It made the walls of the room sweat. It impregnated
paper and blotting-paper. It rotted leather; and spread mould on boots
and clothes. It made matches unstrikeable. It drenched Geoffrey's
bed with perspiration, and drove away sleep. It sent him out on long
midnight walks through the silent city in an atmosphere as stifling as
that of a green-house. It beat down upon Tokyo its fetid exhalations,
the smell of cooking, of sewage and of humanity, and the queer sickly
scent of a powerful evergreen tree aflower throughout the city, which
resembled the reek of that Nagasaki brothel, and recalled the dancing
of the _Chonkina_.
It bred swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes from every drop of stagnant
water. They found their way through the musty mosquito-net which
separated his bed from Asako's. They eluded his blow in the evening
light; and he could only wreak his vengeance in the morning, when they
were heavy with his gore.
The colour faded from the Englishman's cheeks. His appetite failed.
He was becoming, what he had never been before, cross and irritable.
Reggie Forsyth wrote to him from Chuzenji,--
"Yae is here, and we go in for yachting in a kind of winged punt,
called a 'lark.' For five pounds you can become a ship-owner. I fancy
myself as a skipper, and I have already won two races. But more often
we escape from the burble of the diplomats, and take our sandwiches
and _thermata_--or is _thermoi_ the plural?--to the untenanted shores
of the lake, and picnic _a deux_. Then, if the wind does not fall
we are lucky; but if it does, I have to row home. Yae laughs at my
oarsmanship; and says that, if you were here, you would do it so much
better. You are a dangerous rival, but for this once I challenge you.
I have a spare pen in my rabbit-hutch. There is just room for you and
Mrs. Barrington. You must be quite melted by now."
But Asako did not want to go to Chuzenji. All her thoughts were
centred on the little house by the river.
"Geoffrey darling," she said, stroking his hair with her tiny waxen
fingers, "it is the hot weather which is making you feel cross. Why
don't you go up to the mountains for a week or so, and stop with
"Will you come?" asked her husband, brightening.
"I can't very well. You see they are just laying down the _tatami_:
and when that is done the house will be ready. Besides, I feel so well
here. I like the heat."
"But I've never been away without you!" objected Geoffrey, "I think it
would be beastly."
This side of the question had not struck Asako. She was so taken up
with her project. Now, however, she felt a momentary thrill of relief.
She would be able to give all her time to her beloved Japanese home.
Geoffrey was a darling, but he was so uninterested in everything.
"It will only be for a few days," she said, "you want the change; and
when you come back it will be like being married again."
AMONG THE NIKKO MOUNTAINS
Tsumagi no michi ya
Nokiba ni kudaru
Yama-bito no koye_!
Dusk, it seems, has come
To the wood-cutter's track
That is near my hut;
The voices of the mountainmen
Going down to the shed!
Geoffrey left early one morning in a very doubtful frame of mind,
after having charged Tanaka to take the greatest care of his lady, and
to do exactly what she told him.
It was not until half-way up the steep climb between Nikko and
Chuzenji that his lungs suddenly seemed to break through a thick film,
and he breathed fresh air again. Then he was glad that he had come.
He was afoot. A coolie strode on before him with his suit-case
strapped on his back. They had started in pouring rain, a long tramp
through narrow gorges. Geoffrey could feel the mountains around him;
but their forms were wrapped in cloud. Now the mist was lifting;
and although in places it still clung to the branches like wisps of
cotton-wool, the precipitous slopes became visible; and overhead,
peeping through the clouds at impossible elevations, pieces of the
mountain seemed to be falling from the grey sky. Everything was bathed
in rain. The sandstone cliffs gleamed like marble, the luxuriant
foliage like polished leather. The torrent foamed over its wilderness
of grey boulders with a splendid rush of liberty.
Country people passed by, dressed in straw overcoats which looked
like bee-hives, or with thin capes of oiled paper, saffron or
salmon-coloured. The kimono shirts were girt up like fishers--both
men and women--showing gnarled and muscular limbs. The complexions
of these mountain folk were red like fruit; the Mongolian yellow was
Some were leading long files of lean-shanked horses, with bells to
their bridles and high pack-saddles like cradles, painted red. Rough
girls rode astride in tight blue trunk-hose. It was with a start that
Geoffrey recognised their sex; and he wondered vaguely whether men
could fall in love with them, and fondle them. They were on their
way to fetch provision for the lake settlements, or for remote
mining-camps way beyond the mountains.
The air was full of the clamour of the torrent, the heavy splashing
of raindrops delayed among the leaves, and the distant thunder of
What a relief to breath again, and what a pleasure to escape from the
tortuous streets and the toy houses, from the twisted prettiness of
the Tokyo gardens and the tiresome delicacy of the rice-field mosaic,
into a wild and rugged nature, a land of forests and mountains
reminiscent of Switzerland and Scotland, where the occasional croak of
a pheasant fell like music upon Geoffrey's ear!
The two hours' climb ended abruptly in a level sandy road running
among birch trees. At a wayside tea-house a man was sitting on a low
table. He wore white trousers, a coat of cornflower shade and a Panama
hat--all very spick and span. It was Reggie Forsyth.
"Hello," he cried, "my dear old Geoffrey! I'm awfully glad you've
come. But you ought to have brought Mrs. Harrington too. You seem
quite incomplete without her."
"Yes, it's a peculiar sensation, and I don't like it. But the heat,
you know, at Tokyo, it made me feel rotten. I simply had to come away.
And Asako is so busy now with her new cousins and her Japanese house
and all the rest of it."
For the first time Reggie thought that he detected a tone in his
friend's voice which he had been expecting to hear sooner or later, a
kind of "flagging" tone--he found the word afterwards in working out
a musical sketch called _Love's Disharmony_. Geoffrey looked white
and tired, he thought. It was indeed high time that he came up to the
They were approaching the lake, which already showed through the
tree-trunks. A path led away to the left across a rustic bridge.
"That's the way to the hotel. Yae is there. Farther along are the
Russian, French and British Embassies. That's about half an hour from
Reggie's little villa stood at a few minutes' distance in the opposite
direction, past two high Japanese hotels which looked like skeleton
houses with the walls taken out of them, past sheds where furs were on
sale, and picture post-cards, and dry biscuits.
The garden of the villa jutted out over the lake on an embankment of
stones. The house was discreetly hidden by a high hedge of evergreens.
"William Tell's chapel," explained Reggie, "a week in lovely Lucerne!"
It was a Japanese house, another skeleton. From the wicket gate,
Geoffrey could see its simple scheme open to the four winds, its
scanty furniture unblushingly displayed; downstairs, a table, a sofa,
some bamboo chairs and a piano--upstairs, two beds, two washstands,
and the rest. The garden consisted of two strips of wiry grass on each
side of the house; and a flight of steps ran down to the water's edge,
where a small sailing-boat was moored.
The landscape of high wooded hills was fading into evening across the
leaden ripples of the lake.
"What do you think of our highland home?" asked Reggie.
There was not a sign of life over the heavy waters, not a boat, not a
bird, not an island even.
"Not much doing," commented Geoffrey, "but the air's good."
"Not quite like a lake, it is?" his host reflected.
That was true. A lake had always appealed to Geoffrey, both to his
sense of natural beauty and to his instinct for sport. There is a
soothing influence in the imprisoned waters, the romance of the sea
without its restlessness and fury. The freshness of untrodden islands,
the possibilities of a world beneath the waters, of half-perceived
Venetas, the adventure of entrusting oneself and one's fortunes to a
few planks of wood, are delights which the lake-lover knows well. He
knows too, the delicious sense of detachment from the shore--the shore
of ordinary affairs and monotonous people--and the charm of unfamiliar
lights and colours and reflections. Even on the Serpentine he can find
this glamour, when the birds are flocking to roost in the trees of
Peter Pan's island.
But on this lake of Chuzenji there was a sullen brooding, an absence
of life, a suggestion of tragedy.
"It isn't a lake," explained Reggie; "it's the crater of an old
volcano which has filled up with water. It is one of the earth's
pockmarks healed over and forgotten. But there is something lunar
about it still, some memory of burned out passions, something creepy
in spite of the beauty of the place. It is too dark this evening to
see how beautiful it is. In places the lake is unfathomably deep, and
people have fallen into the water and have never been seen again."
The waters were almost blue now, a deep dull greyish blue.
Suddenly, away to the left, lines of silver streaked the surface; and,
with a clapping and dripping commotion, a flight of white geese rose.
They had been dozing under the bank, and some one had disturbed them.
A pale figure like a little flame was dimly discernible.
"It's Yae!" cried Reggie; and he made a noise which was supposed to be
a _jodel_ The white figure waved an answer.
Reggie picked up a megaphone which seemed to be kept there for the
"Good night," he shouted, "same time to-morrow!"
The figure waved again and disappeared.
Next morning Geoffrey was awakened by the boom of a temple bell. He
stepped out on to his balcony, and saw the lake and the hills around
clear and bright under the yellow sunshine. He drank in the cool
breath of the dew. For the first time after many limp and damp
awakenings he felt the thrill of the wings of the morning. He thanked
God he had come. If only Asako were here! he thought. Perhaps she was
right in getting a Japanese home just for the two of them. They would
be happier there than jostled by the promiscuity of hotels.
At breakfast, Reggie had found a note from the Ambassador.
"Oh, damn!" he cried, "I must go over and beat a typewriter for two
or three hours. I must therefore break my tryst. But I expect you to
replace me like the immortal Cyrano, who should be the ideal of all
soldiers. Will you take Yae for an hour or two's sail? She likes you
"And if I drown your fiancee? I don't know anything about sailing."
"I'll show you. It's very easy. Besides, Yae really knows more about
it than I do."
So Geoffrey after a short lesson in steering, tacking, and the
manipulation of the centreboard, piloted his host safely over to
British Bay, the exclusive precinct of the temporary Embassy on the
opposite shore of the lake. He then made his way round French Cape
past Russia Cove to the wooden landing-stage of the Lakeside Hotel.
There he found Yae, sitting on a bench and throwing pebbles at the
She wore the blue and white cotton kimono, which is the summer dress
of Japanese women. It is a cheap garment, but most effective--so clean
and cool in the hot weather. Silk kimonos soon become stale-looking;
but this cotton dress always seems to be fresh from the laundry. A
rope of imitation pearls was entwined in her dark hair; and her broad
sash of deep blue was secured in front with an old Chinese ornament of
"Oh, big captain," she cried, "I am so glad it is you. I heard you
She stepped into the boat, and took over the tiller and the command.
Geoffrey explained his friend's absence.
"The bad boy," she said, "he wants to get away from me in order to
think about a lot of music. But I don't care!"
Under a steady wind they sheered through the water. On the right hand
was Chuzenji village, a Swiss effect of brown chalets dwarfed to utter
insignificance by the huge wooded mountain dome of Nantai San which
rose behind it. On the left the forest was supreme already, except
where in small clearings five or six houses, tenanted by foreign
diplomats, stood out above the lake. A little farther on a Buddhist
temple slumbered above a flight of broad stone steps. The sacred
buildings were freshly lacquered, and red as a new toy. In front, on
the slope of golden sand, its base bathed by the tiny waves, stood
the _torii_, the wooden archway which is Japan's universal religious
symbol. Its message is that of the Wicket Gate in the Pilgrim's
Progress. Wherever it is to be seen--and it is to be seen
everywhere--it stands for the entering in of the Way, whether that way
be "_Shinto_" (The Way of the Gods), or "_Butsudo_" (The Way of the
Buddhas), or "_Bushido_" (The Way of the Warriors).
There was plenty of breeze. The boat shot down the length of the
lake at a delicious speed. The two voyagers reached at last a little
harbour, Sh[=o]bu-ga-Hama--The Beach of the Lilies--a muddy shore with
slimy rocks, a few brown cottages and a saw-mill.
"Let's go and see the waterfall," suggested Yae, "it's only a few
They walked together up a steep winding lane. The fresh air and the
birch trees, the sight of real Alderney cows grazing on patches
of real grass, the distant rumble of the cataract brought back to
Geoffrey a feeling of strength and well-being to which he had for
weeks been a stranger.
If only the real Asako had been with him instead of this enigmatic and
disquieting image of her!
The Japanese, who have an innate love for natural beauty, never
fail to mark an exceptional view with a little bench or shelter for
travelers, whence they can obtain the best perspective. If sight-seers
frequent the spot in any number, there will be an old dame _en
guerite_ with her picture post-cards and her Ebisu Beer, her
"Champagne Cider," her _sembei_ (round and salted biscuits) and her
tale of the local legend.
"_Irrasshai! Irrasshai_;" she pipes. "Come, come, please rest a
But the cascade above Sh[=o]bu-ga-Hama is only one among the thousand
lesser waterfalls of this mountain country. It is honoured merely by
an unsteady bench under a broken roof, and by a rope knotted round the
trunk of a tall tree in mid-stream to indicate that the locality is
an abode of spirits, and to warn passers-by against inconsiderately
offending the Undine.
Geoffrey and Yae were balancing themselves on the bench, gazing at the
race of foam and at the burnished bracken. The Englishman was clearing
his mind for action.
"Miss Smith," he began at last, "do you think you will be happy with
"He says so, big captain," answered the little half-caste, her mouth
"Because if you are not happy, Reggie won't be happy; and if you are
neither of you happy, you will be sorry that you married."!
"But we are not married yet," said the girl, "we are only engaged."
"But you will be married sometime, I suppose?"
"This year, next year, sometime, never!" laughed Yae. "It is nice to
be engaged, and it is such a protection. When I am not engaged, all
the old cats, Lady Cynthia and the rest, say that I flirt. Now when
I am engaged, my fiance is here to shield me. Then they dare not
say things, or it comes round to him, and he is angry. So I can do
anything I like when I am engaged."
This was a new morality for Geoffrey. It knocked the text from under
the sermon which he had been preparing. She was as preposterous as
Reggie; but she was not, like him, conscious of her preposterousness.
"Then, when you are married, will you flirt?" asked her companion.
"I think so," said Yae gravely. "Besides, Reggie only wants me to
dress me up and write music about me. If I am always the same like an
English doll wife, he won't get many tunes to play. Reggie is like a
"Reggie is too good for you," said the Englishman, roughly.
"I don't think so," said Yae, "I don't want Reggie, but Reggie wants
"What do you want then?"
"I want a great big man with arms and legs like a wrestler. A man who
hunts lions. He will pick me up like you did at Kamakura, big captain,
and throw me in the air and catch me again. And I will take him away
from the woman he loves, so that he will hate me and beat me for it.
And when he sees on my back the marks of the whip and the blood he
will love me again so strongly that he will become weak and silly like
a baby. Then I will look after him and nurse him; and we will drink
wine together. And we will go for long rides together on horseback in
the moonlight galloping along the sands by the edge of the sea!"
Geoffrey was gazing at her with alarm. Was she going mad? The girl
jumped up and laid her little hands on his shoulder.
"There, big captain," she cried, "don't be frightened. That is only
one of Reggie's piano tunes. I never heard tunes like his before. He
plays them, and then explains to me what each note means; and then
he plays the tune again, and I can see the whole story. That is why I
"Then you _do_ love him?" Geoffrey was clutching pathetically for
anything which he could understand or appeal to in this elusive
"I love him," said Yae, pirouetting on her white toes near the edge of
the chasm, "and I love you and I love any man who is worth loving!"
They returned to the lake in silence. Geoffrey's sermon was abortive.
This girl was altogether outside the circle of his code of Good Form.
He might as well preach vegetarianism to a leopard. Yet she fascinated
him, as she fascinated all men who were not as dry as Aubrey Laking.
She was so pretty, so frail and so fearless. Life had not given her
a fair chance; and she appealed to the chivalrous instinct in men, as
well as to their less creditable passions. She was such a butterfly
creature; and the flaring lamps of life had such a fatal attraction
The wind was blowing straight against the harbour. The bay of
Sh[=o]bu-ga-Hama was shallow water. Try as he might, Geoffrey could not
manoeuvre the little yacht into the open waters of the lake.
"We are on a lee-shore," said Geoffrey.
At the end he had to get down and wade bare-legged, towing the boat
after him until at last Yae announced that the centreboard had been
lowered and that the boat was answering to the helm.
Geoffrey clambered in dripping. He shook himself like a big dog after
"Reggie could never have done that," said Yae, with fervent
admiration. "He would be afraid of catching cold."
* * * * *
At last they reached the steps of the villa. They were both hungry.
"I am going to stop to lunch, big captain," said Yae, "Reggie won't be
"How do you know?"
"Because I saw Gwendolen Cairns listening last evening when he spoke
to me through the big trumpet. She tells Lady Cynthia, and that means
a lot of work next day for poor Reggie, so that he can't spend his
time with me. You see! Oh, how I hate women!"
After lunch, at Chuzenji, all the world goes to sleep. It awakes at
about four o'clock, when the white sails come gliding out of the green
bays like swans. They greet, or avoid. They run side by side for
the length of a puff of breeze. They coquet with one another like
butterflies; or they head for one of those hidden beaches which are
the principal charm of the lake, where baskets are unpacked and cakes
and sandwiches appear, where dry sticks are gathered for a rustic
fire, and after an hour or more of anxious stoking the kettle boils.
"Of all the Japanese holiday places, Chuzenji is the most select and
the most agreeable," Reggie Forsyth explained; "it is the only place
in all Japan where the foreigner is genuinely popular and respected.
He spends his money freely, he does not swear or scold. The
woman-chasing, whisky-swilling type, who has disgraced us in the
open ports, is unknown here. These native mountaineers are rough and
uneducated savages, but they are honest and healthy. We feel on easy
terms with them, as we do with our own peasantry. In the village
street of Chuzenji I have seen a young English officer instructing the
sons of boatmen and woodcutters in the mysteries of cricket."
In Chuzenji there are no Japanese visitors except the pilgrims who
throng to the lake during the season for climbing the holy mountain of
Nantai. These are country people, all of them, from villages all over
Japan, who have drawn lucky lots in the local pilgrimage club. One
can recognize them at once by their dingy white clothes, like
grave-clothes--men and women are garbed alike--by their straw mushroom
hats, by the strip of straw matting strapped across their shoulders,
and by the long wooden staves which they carry and which will be
stamped with the seal of the mountain-shrine when they have reached
the summit. These pilgrims are lodged free by the temple on the
lake-side, in long sheds like cattle-byres.
The endless files of lean pack-horses, laden with bags of rice and
other provisions, the ruddy sexless girls who lead them, and the women
who have been foraging for wood and come down from the mountain with
enormous faggots on their bent shoulders, provide a foreground for the
* * * * *
Geoffrey was sleeping upstairs in his bedroom. Yae was sleeping
downstairs on the sofa. He had expected her to return to the hotel
after lunch, but her attitude was that of "_J'y suis, j'y reste_."
He awoke with a start to find the girl standing beside his bed.
Afterwards he became sure that he had been awakened by the touch of
soft fingers on his face.
"Wake up, big captain," she was saying. "It is four o'clock, and the
"What Ark?" he yawned.
"Why, the Embassy boat."
Out of sheer devilry, Miss Smith waited for the arrival of Lady
Cynthia. The great lady paid no more attention to her existence than
if she had been a piece of the house. But she greeted Geoffrey most
"Come for a walk," she said in her abrupt way.
As they turned down the village street she announced:
"The worst has happened--I suppose you know?"
"Yes; he's actually engaged to be married to the creature. Has he told
"In the greatest confidence."
"Well, he forgot to bind his young lady to secrecy. She has told
"Can't he be recalled to London?"
"The old man says that would just push him over the edge. He has
talked of resigning from the service."
"Is there anything to be done?"
"Nothing! Let him marry her. It will spoil his career in diplomacy, of
course. But he will soon get tired of her fooling him. He will divorce
her, and will give up his life to music to which, of course, he
belongs. People like Reggie Forsyth have no right to marry at all."
"But are you sure that she wants to marry him?" said his friend; and
he related his conversation with Yae that morning.
"That's very interesting and encouraging," said Her Excellency. "So
she has been trying her hand on you already."
"I never thought of that," exclaimed Geoffrey. "Why, she knows that
Reggie is my best friend; and that I am married."
The judicial features of Lady Cynthia lightened with a judicial smile.
"You have been through so many London seasons, Captain Barrington, and
there is still no guile in you!"
They walked on in silence past the temple terraces down a winding
"Captain Barrington, would you care to play the part of a real hero, a
real theatre hero, playing to the gallery?"
Geoffrey was baffled. Had the talk suddenly swung over to amateur
theatricals? Lady Cynthia was a terrible puller of legs.
"Did you ever hear of Madge Carlyle?" she asked, "or was she before
"I have heard of her."
She was a famous London _cocotte_ in the days when mashers wore
whiskers and "Champagne Charlie" was sung.
"At the age of forty-three'" said Lady Cynthia, "Madge decided to
marry for the third or fourth time. She had found a charming young man
with plenty of money and a noble heart, who believed that Madge was
a much slandered woman. His friends were sorry for the young man; and
one of them decided to give a dinner to celebrate the betrothal. In
the middle of the feast an urgent message arrived for the enamoured
one, summoning him to his home. When he had gone the others started
plying poor Madge with drinks. She was very fond of drinks. They
had splendid fun. Then one of the guests--he was an old lover of
Madge's--suggested--Good-bye to the old days and the rest of it!"
"But what did he think of his friends?" asked Geoffrey. "It seems a
low-down sort of trick."
"He was very sore about it at the time," said Lady Cynthia; "but
afterwards he understood that they were heroes, real theatre heroes."
"It looks like rain," said Geoffrey, uneasily.
So they turned back, talking about London people.
The first drops fell as they were passing through the wicket gate; and
they entered the house during a roar of thunder. Reggie was alone.
"I see that my fate is sealed," he said, as he rose to meet them.
"'The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes!'"
Waga ko nari_.
When I caught him and looked
Lo! My own child!
A week of very hard work began for Reggie. The Ambassador
was reporting home on every imaginable subject from political
assassination to the manufacture of celluloid. This was part of Lady
Cynthia's scheme. She was determined to throw Yae Smith and Geoffrey
Barrington together all the time, and to risk the consequences.
So Yae though she had her room at the hotel, became an inmate of
Reggie's villa. She took all her meals there, and her siesta during
most of the afternoons. She even passed whole nights with Reggie;
and their relations could no longer be a secret even to Geoffrey's
This knowledge troubled him; for the presence of lovers, and the
shadows cast by their intimacies are always disquieting even to the
purest minds. But Geoffrey felt that it was no business of his;
and that Reggie and Yae being what they were, it would be useless
hypocrisy for him to censure their pleasures.
Meanwhile, Asako was writing to him, bewailing her loneliness. So
one morning at breakfast he announced that he must be getting back to
Tokyo. A cloud passed over Yae's face.
"Not yet, big captain," she expostulated; "I want to take you right to
the far end of the lake where the bears live."
"Very well," agreed Geoffrey, "to-morrow morning early, then; for the
next day I really must go."
He wrote to Asako a long letter with much about the lake and Yae
Smith, promising to return within forty-eight hours.
At daybreak next morning Yae was hammering at Geoffrey's door.
"Wake up, old sleepy captain," she cried.
Geoffrey got the boat ready; and Yae prepared a picnic breakfast to be
eaten on the way. Poor Reggie, of course, had work at the Embassy; he
could not come.
It was an ideal excursion. They reached Senju, the wood-cutter's
village at the end of the lake. They ascended the forest path as far
as the upper lake, a mere pond of reeds and sedges, which the bears
are supposed to haunt.
Geoffrey and Yae, however, saw nothing more alarming than the village
"Returned in safety from the land of danger!" cried the girl, as she
sprang ashore at the steps of the villa.
The air and exercise had wearied Geoffrey. After lunch he changed into
a kimono of Reggie's. Then he lay down on his bed and was soon fast
How long he slept he could not say; but he awoke slowly out of
confusing dreams. Somebody was in his room. Somebody was near his bed.
Was it Asako? Was it a dream?
No, it was his comrade of the morning's voyage. It was Yae Smith. She
was sitting on the bed beside him. She was gazing into his face with
her soft, still, cat-like eyes. What was she doing that for? She was
stroking his arm. Her touch was soft. He did not stop her.
Her hair was let down to below her waist, long black hair, more silky
in texture and more wavy than that of a pure Japanese woman. Her
kimono was wide open at the throat. A sweet fragrance exhaled from her
"Big captain, may I?" she pleaded.
"What?" said Geoffrey, still half asleep.
"Just lie by your side--just once,--just for the last time," she
Geoffrey was for going to sleep again, well pleased with his dream.
But Yae slipped an arm across his chest, and caught his shoulder in
her hand. She nestled closer to him.
"Geoffrey," she murmured, "I love you so much. You are so strong and
so big, Geoffrey. I want to stay like this always, always, holding
on to you till I make you love me. Love me just a little, Geoffrey.
Nobody will ever know. Geoffrey, it must be nice to have me near you.
Geoffrey, you must, you must want to love me."
She was hugging his body now in an embrace astonishingly powerful
for so small a creature. It was this pressure which finally awoke
Geoffrey. Gently he disengaged her arms and sat up in the bed.
She was clinging to his neck now, wild-eyed like a Maenad. He
felt pitifully ridiculous. The role of Joseph is so thankless and
humiliating. A month ago he would have ordered her sternly to get out
of the room and behave herself. But the hot month in Tokyo had relaxed
his firmness of mind; and familiarity with Reggie's bohemian morality
has sapped his fortress of Good Form.
"Don't be so naughty, Yae," he said feebly. "Reggie may be coming. For
God's sake, control yourself."
Her voice was terrible now.
Geoffrey had lost the first moment when he might have been stern with
her. Clumsily he tried to loosen her embrace. But for the first time
in his life he was in the grip of an elemental natural force, a thing
foreign to his experience of women in marriage or out of it.
"Yae, don't," he gasped, pushing the girl away. "I can't; I'm
"Married!" she screamed. "Does marriage hurt like this? Love me, love
me, Geoffrey. You must love me, you will!"
* * * * *
"The rhapsody is ended!"
A voice which nobody would have recognized as Reggie's put a sudden
end to this frantic assault.
He was standing in the doorway smiling queerly. He had watched the two
from the garden, whence indeed all Chuzenji could have seen them
in the open bedroom. He had slipped off his shoes and had stolen
up quietly in order to listen to them. Now he judged it time to
Yae started up from the bed. For a moment she hovered on the edge,
uncertain of her tactics. Geoffrey stared, one hand to his forehead.
Then the girl darted across the room, fell at Reggie's feet, clasped
his knees, and sobbed convulsively.
"Reggie, Reggie, forgive me!" she cried. "It's not my fault. He's been
asking me and asking me to do this--ever since Kamakura--and all the
time here. This is what he came to stay here for. Reggie, forgive me.
I will never be naughty again."
Reggie looked across at his friend for confirmation or denial. The
queer smile had vanished. Good Form decreed that the man must lie for
the woman's sake, if necessary till his soul were damned. But, with
Geoffrey, Good Form had long since been thrown to the winds, like
International Law in war time. Besides, the woman was no better than a
_cocotte_; and Reggie's friendship was at stake.
"No," he said huskily; "that is not true. I was quietly sleeping here
and she came up to me. She is man-mad."
The tangled heap at Reggie's feet leaped up, her green eyes blazing.
"Liar!" she cried. "Reggie, do you believe him? The hypocrite, the
goody-goody, the white slave man, the pimp!"
"What does she mean?" said Geoffrey. Thank God, the woman was clearly
"Fujinami! Fujinami!" she yelled. "The great girl king! The Yoshiwara
_daimyo_! Every scrap of money which his fool wife spends on sham
curios was made in the Yoshiwara, made by women, made out of filth,
made by prostitutes!"
The last word brought Geoffrey to his feet. In his real agony he had
quite forgotten his sham sin.
"Reggie, for God's sake, tell me, is this true?"
"Yes," said Reggie quietly, "it is quite true."
"Then why did no one tell me?"
"Husbands," said the young man, "and prospective husbands are always
the last to learn. Yae, go back to the hotel. You have done enough
harm for to-day."
"Not unless you forgive me, Reggie," the girl pleaded. "I will never
go unless you forgive."
"I can't forgive," he said, "but I can probably forget."
The wrath of these two men fascinated her. She would have waited if
she could, listening at the door. Reggie knew this.
"If you don't clear out, Yae, I will have to call T[=o] to take you," he
To his great relief she went quietly.
* * * * *
Reggie returned to the bare bedroom, where Geoffrey with bowed head
was staring at the floor. In Reggie's short kimono the big man looked
"Good," thought Reggie. "Thank God for the comic spirit. It will be
easier to get through with this now."
His first action was to wash his hands. He had an unconscious instinct
for symbolism. Then he sat down opposite his friend.
The action of sitting reduces tragedy to comedy at once,--this was one
of Napoleon's maxims.
Then he opened his cigarette case and offered it to Geoffrey. This,
too, was symbolic. Geoffrey took a cigarette mechanically, and sucked
it between his lips, unlighted.
"Geoffrey," said his friend very quietly, "let us try to put these
women and all their rottenness out of our heads. We will try to talk
this over decently."
Geoffrey was so stunned by the shock of what he had just learned that
he had thought of nothing else. Now, all of a sudden he remembered
that he owed serious explanations to his friend.
"Reggie," he said dully, "I'm most awfully sorry. I had never dreamed
of this. I was good pals with Yae because of you. I never dreamed of
making love to her. You know how I love my wife. She must have been
mad to think of me like that. Besides," he added sheepishly, "nothing
"I'm sure I don't care what actually happened or did not happen. Damn
actual facts. They distort the truth. They are at the bottom of every
injustice. What actually happened never matters. It is the picture
which sticks in one's brain. True or false, it sticks just the same;
and suddenly or slowly it alters every thing. But I can wipe up my
own mess, I think. It is much more serious with you than with me,
Geoffrey. She has bruised my heel, but she has broken your head. No,
don't protest, for Heaven's sake! I am not interested."
"Then what she says is absolutely true?" said Geoffrey, lighting his
cigarette at last, and throwing the match aside as if it were Hope.
"For a whole year I have been living on prostitutes' earnings. I am
no better than those awful _ponces_ in Leicester Square, who can be
flogged if they are caught, and serve them right too. And all that
filthy Yoshiwara, it belongs to Asako, to my sweet innocent little
girl, just as Brandan belongs to my father; and with all this
filthy money we have been buying comforts and clothes and curios and
Reggie was pouring out whiskies and sodas, two strong ones. Geoffrey
gulped down his drink, and then proceeded with his lamentation:
"I understand it all now. Everybody knew. The secrecy and the mystery.
Even at my wedding they were saying, 'Don't go to Japan, don't go.'
They must have all known even then. And then those damned Fujinami,
so anxious to be civil for the beastly money's sake, and yet hiding
everything and lying all the time. And you knew, and the Ambassador,
and Count Saito, and the servants too--always whispering and laughing
behind our backs. But you, Reggie, you were my friend, you ought to
have told me."
"I asked Sir Ralph," said Reggie candidly, "whether you ought to be
told. He is a very wise man. He said, 'No.' He said, 'It would be
cruel and it would be useless. They will go back to England soon and
then they will never know.' Where ignorance is bliss, you understand?"
"It was unfair," groaned Geoffrey; "you were all deceiving me."
"I said to Sir Ralph that it seemed to me unfair and dangerous. But he
has more experience than I."
"But what am I to do now?" said the big man helplessly. "This money
must be given up, yes, and everything we have. But whom to? Not to
those filthy Fujinami?"
"Go slow," advised Reggie. "Go back to England first. Get your
brain clear. Talk it over with your lawyers. Don't be too generous.
Magnanimity has spoiled many noble lives. And remember that your wife
is in this too. You must consider her first. She is very young and she
knows nothing. I don't think that she wants to be poor, or that she
will understand your motives."
"I will make her understand then," said Geoffrey.
"Don't talk like a brute. You will have to be very patient and
considerate for her. Go slow!"
"Can I stop here to-night, then?" asked Barrington, plaintively.
"No," said Reggie with firmness; "that is really more than I could
stick. I told you--truth or untruth, the mind keeps on seeing
pictures. Pack up your things. Call a coolie. The evening walk down to
Nikko will do you more good than my jawing. Good-bye."
An unreal handshake--and he was gone.
Then, of a sudden, Geoffrey realized that, how very unwittingly, he
had deeply wronged this man who was his best friend and upon whom
he was leaning in his hour of trial. Like Job, his adversities were
coming upon him from this side and from that, until he must curse God
and die. Now his friend had given him his dismissal. He would probably
never see Reggie Forsyth again.
As he was starting on his long walk downhill a motor car passed him.
Only one motor car that season had climbed the precipitous road from
the plains. It must be Yae Smith's. Just as it was passing the girl
leaned out of the carriage and blew a kiss to Geoffrey.
She was not alone. There was a small fat man in the car beside her,
a Japanese with a round impertinent face. With a throb of bitter
heart-sickness Geoffrey recognized his own servant, Tanaka.
* * * * *
Next morning Reggie Forsyth crossed the lake as usual to his work at
the Embassy. He met the Ambassadress on the terrace of her villa.
"Good morning, Lady Cynthia," he said, "I congratulate you on your
"What do you mean?"
Her manner nowadays was very chilly towards her former favourite.
"In accordance with your admirable arrangements," he said, "my
marriage is off."
"Oh, Reggie," her coolness changed at once, "I'm so glad--"
He held up a warning hand.
"But--you have broken a better man than I."
"Why, what do you mean?"
"Geoffrey Barrington. He has learned who the Fujinami are, and where
his money comes from."
"You told him?"
"I'm not such a skunk as all that, Lady Cynthia."
Her Excellency was pondering what had better be done for Geoffrey.
"Where is he?" she asked.
"He stopped the night at Nikko. He is probably in the train for Tokyo
If she were a hero, a real theatre hero, as Geoffrey had been
apparently, she would go straight off to Tokyo also; and perhaps she
would be able to prevent a catastrophe. Or perhaps she would not.
Perhaps she would only make things worse. On the whole, she had better
stop in Chuzenji and look after her own husband.
"Reggie," she said, "you've had a lucky escape. How did you know that
I had any hand in this? You're more of a girl than a man. A rotten
marriage would have broken you. Geoffrey Barrington is made of
stronger stuff. He is in for a bad time. But he will learn a lot which
you know already; and he will survive."
_Na we to wa wo
Hito zo saku naru.
Hito no naka-goto
Kiki-kosu na yume!_
It is other people who have separated
You and me.
Come, my Lord!
Do not dream of listening
To the between-words of people!
After a ghastly night of sleeplessness at Nikko, Geoffrey Barrington
reached Tokyo in time for lunch. His thoughts were confused and
"I feel as if I had been drunk for a week," he kept on saying to
himself. Indeed, he felt a fume of unreality over all his actions.
One thing was certain: financially, he was a ruined man. The thousands
a year which yesterday morning had been practically his, the ease and
comfort which had seemed so secure, were lost more hopelessly than if
his bank had failed. Even the cash in his pocket he touched with the
greatest disgust, as if those identical bills and coins had been paid
across the brothel counter as the price for a man's dirty pleasures
and a girl's shame and disease. He imagined that the Nikko
hotel-keeper looked at his notes suspiciously as though they were
endorsed with the seal of the Yoshiwara.
Geoffrey was ruined. He was henceforth dependent on what his brain
could earn and on what his father would allow him, five hundred pounds
a year at the outside. If he had been alone in the world it would not
have mattered much; but Asako, poor little Asako, the innocent cause
of this disaster, she was ruined too. She who loved her riches, her
jewellery, her pretty things, she would have to sell them all. She
would have to follow him into poverty, she, who had no experience of
its meaning. This was his punishment, perhaps, for having steadily
pursued the idea of a rich marriage. But what had Asako done to
deserve it? Thank God, his marriage had at least not been a loveless
Geoffrey felt acutely the need of human sympathy in his trouble. By
sheer bad luck he had forfeited Reggie's friendship. But he could
still depend upon his wife's love.
So he ran up the stairs at the Imperial Hotel longing for Asako's
welcome, though he dreaded the obligation to break the bad news.
He threw open the door. The room was empty. He looked for cloaks and
hats and curios, for luggage, for any sign of her presence. There was
nothing to indicate that the room was hers.
Sick with apprehension, he returned to the corridor. There was a _boy
san_ near at hand.
"_Okusan_ go away," said the _boy san_. "No come back, I think."
"Where has she gone?" asked Geoffrey.
The _boy san_, with the infuriating Japanese grin, shook his head.
"I am very sorry for you," he said. "To-day very early plenty people
come, Tanaka San and two Japanese girls. Very plenty talk. _Okusan_
cry tears. All nice kimono take away very quick."
"Then Tanaka, where is he?"
"Go away with _okusan_" the boy grinned again, "I am very sorry--"
Geoffrey slammed the door in the face of his tormentor. He staggered
into a chair and collapsed, staring blankly. What could have happened?
Slowly his ideas returned. Tanaka! He had seen the little beast in
Yae's motor car at Chuzenji. He must have come spying after his master
as he had done fifty times before. He and that half-caste devil had
raced him back to Tokyo, had got in ahead of him, and had told a pack
of lies to Asako. She must have believed them, since she had gone
away. But where had she gone to? The _boy san_ had said "two Japanese
girls." She must have gone to the Fujinami house, and to her horribly
He must find her at once. He must open her eyes to the truth. He must
bring her back. He must take her away from Japan--forever.
Harrington was crossing the hall of the hotel muttering to himself,
seeing nothing, hearing nothing, when he felt a hand laid on his arm.
It was Titine, Asako's French maid.
"_Monsieur le capitaine_" she said, "_madame est partie_. It is not my
fault, _monsieur le capitaine_. I say to madame, do not go, wait for
monsieur. But madame is bewitched. She, who is _bonne catholique_, she
say prayers to the temples of these yellow devils. I myself have seen
her clap her hands--so!--and pray. Her saints have left her. She is
Titine was a Breton peasant girl. She believed implicitly in the
powers of darkness. She had long ago decided that the gods of the
Japanese and the _korrigans_ of her own country were intimately
related. She had served Asako since before her marriage, and would
have remained with her until death. She was desperately faithful. But
she could not follow her mistress to the Fujinami house and risk her
"_Monsieur le capitaine_ go away, and madame very, very unhappy. Every
night she cry. Why did monsieur stay away so long time?"
"It was only a fortnight," expostulated Geoffrey.
"For the first parting it was too long," said Titine judicially.
"Every night madame cry; and then she write to monsieur and say, 'Come
back.'" Monsieur write and say, 'Not yet.' Then madame break her heart
and say, 'It is because of some woman that he stay away so long time!'
She say so to Tanaka; and Tanaka say, 'I go and detect, and come again
and tell madame;' and madame say, 'Yes, Tanaka can go: I wish to know
the truth!' And still more she cry and cry. This morning very
early Tanaka came back with Mademoiselle Smith and mademoiselle _la
cousine_. They all talk a long time with madame in bedroom. But they
send me away. Then madame call me. She cry and cry. 'Titine,' she say,
'I go away. Monsieur do not love me now. I go to the Japanese house.
Pack all my things, Titine.' I say, 'No, madame, never. I never go to
that house of devils. How can madame tell the good confessor? How can
madame go to the Holy Mass? Will madame leave her husband and go to
these people who pray to stone beasts? Wait for monsieur!' I say,
'What Tanaka say, it is lies, all the time lies. What Mademoiselle
Smith say all lies.' But madame say, 'No come with me, Titine!' But
I say again, 'Never!' And madame go away, crying all the time: and
sixteen rickshaw all full of baggage. "Oh, _monsieur le capitaine_,
what shall I do?"
"I'm sure, I don't know," said the helpless Geoffrey.
"Send me back to France, monsieur. This country is full of devils,
devils and lies."
He left her sobbing in the hall of the hotel with a cluster of _boy
sans_ watching her.
* * * * *
Geoffrey took a taxi to the Fujinami house. No one answered his
ringing; but he thought that he could hear voices inside the building.
So he strode in, unannounced, and with his boots on his feet, an
unspeakable offence against Japanese etiquette.
He found Asako in a room which overlooked the garden where he had been
received on former occasions. Her cousin Sadako was with her and Ito,
the lawyer. To his surprise and disgust, his wife was dressed in the
Japanese kimono and _obi_ which had once been so pleasing to his eyes.
Her change of nationality seemed to be already complete.
This was an Asako whom he had never known before. Her eyes were ringed
with weeping, and her face was thin and haggard. But her expression
had a new look of resolution. She was no longer a child, a doll. In
the space of a few hours she had grown to be a woman.
They were all standing. Sadako and the lawyer had formed up behind the
runaway as though to give her moral support.
"Asako," said Geoffrey sternly, "what does this mean?"
The presence of the two Japanese exasperated him. His manner was
tactless and unfortunate. His tall stature in the dainty room looked
coarse and brutal. Sadako and Ito were staring at his offending boots
with an expression of utter horror. Geoffrey suddenly remembered that
he ought to have taken them off.
"Oh, damn," he thought.
"Geoffrey," said his wife, "I can't come back. I am sorry. I have
decided to stay here."
"Why?" asked Geoffrey brusquely.
"Because I know that you do not love me. I think you never loved
anything except my money."
The hideous irony of this statement made poor Geoffrey gasp. He
gripped the wooden framework of the room so as to steady himself.
"Good God!" he shouted. "Your money! Do you know where it comes from?"
Asako stared at him, more and more bewildered.
"Send these people out of the room, and I'll tell you," said Geoffrey.
"I would rather they stayed," his wife answered.
It had been arranged beforehand that, if, Geoffrey called, Asako was
not to be left alone with him. She had been made to believe that she
was in danger of physical violence. She was terribly frightened.
"Very well," Geoffrey blundered on, "every penny you have is made
out of prostitution, out of the sale of women to men. You saw the
Yoshiwara, you saw the poor women imprisoned there, you know that any
drunken beast can come and pay his money down and say, 'I want that
girl,' and she has to give herself up to be kissed and pulled about
by him, even if she hates him and loathes him. Well, all this filthy
Yoshiwara and all those poor girls and all that dirty money belongs to
these Fujinami and to you. That is why they are so rich, and that is
why we have been so rich. If we were in England, we could be flogged
for this, and imprisoned, and serve us right too. And all this money
is bad; and, if we keep it, we are worse than criminals; and neither
of us can ever be happy, or look any one in the face again."
Asako was shaking her head gently like an automaton, understanding
not a word of all this outburst. Her mind was on one thing only, her
husband's infidelity. His mind was on one thing only, the shame of
his wife's money. They were like card-players who concentrate their
attention exclusively on the cards in their own hands, oblivious to
what their partners or opponents may hold.
Asako remaining silent, Mr. Ito began to speak. His voice seemed more
squeaky than ever.
"Captain Barrington," he said, "I am very sorry for you. But you
see now true condition of things. You must remember you are English
gentleman. Mrs. Barrington wishes not to return to you. She has been
told that you make misconduct with Miss Smith at Kamakura, and again
at Chuzenji. Miss Smith herself says so. Mrs. Harrington thinks this
story must be true; or Miss Smith do not tell so bad story about
herself. We think she is quite right--"
"Shut up!" thundered Geoffrey. "This is a matter for me and my wife
alone. Please, leave us. My wife has heard one side of a story which
is unfair and untrue. She must hear from me what really happened."
"I think, some other day, it would be better," cousin Sadako
intervened. "You see, Mrs. Barrington cannot speak to-day. She is too
It was quite true. Asako stood like a dummy, neither seeing nor
hearing apparently, neither assenting nor contradicting. How powerful
is the influence of clothes! If Asako had been dressed in her Paris
coat and skirt, her husband would have crossed the few mats which
separated them, and would have carried her off willy-nilly. But in her
kimono did she wholly belong to him? Or was she a Japanese again,
a Fujinami? She seemed to have been transformed by some enchanter's
spell; as Titine had said, she was bewitched.
"Asako, do you mean this?" The big man's voice was harsh with grief.
"Do you mean that I am to go without you?"
Asako still showed no sign of comprehension.
"Answer me, my darling; do you want me to go?"
Her head moved in assent, and her lips answered "Yes."
That whisper made such a wrench at her husband's heart that his grip
tightened on the frail _shoji_, and with a nervous spasm he sent it
clattering out of its socket flat upon the floor of the room, like
a screen blown down by the wind. Ito dashed forward to help Geoffrey
replace the damage. When they turned round again, the two women had
"Captain Barrington," said Ito, "I think you had better go away. You
make bad thing worse."
Geoffrey frowned at the little creature. He would have liked to have
crushed him underfoot like a cockroach. But as that was impossible,
nothing remained for him to do but to depart, leaving the track of his
dirty boots on the shining corridor. His last glimpse of his cousins'
home was of two little serving-maids scuttering up with dusters to
remove the defilement.
Asako had fainted.
* * * * *
As Reggie had said in Chuzenji, "What actually happens does not
matter: it is the thought of what might have happened, which sticks."
If Reggie's tolerant and experienced mind could not rid itself of the
picture conjured up by the possibility of his friend's treachery and
his mistress's lightness, how could Asako, ignorant and untried, hope
to escape from a far more insistent obsession? She believed that her
husband was guilty. But the mere feeling that it was possible that he
might be guilty would have been enough to numb her love for him, at
any rate for a time. She had never known heartache before. She did not
realise that it is a fever which runs its appointed course of torment
and despair, which at length after a given term abates, and then
disappears altogether, leaving the sufferer weak but whole again.
The second attack of the malady finds its victim familiar with the
symptoms, resigned to a short period of misery and confident of
recovery. A broken heart like a broken horse is of great service to
But Asako was like one stricken with an unknown disease. Its violence
appalled her, and in her uncertainty she prayed for death. Moreover,
she was surrounded by counsellors who traded on her little faith, who
kept on reminding her that she was a Japanese, that she was among her
father's people who loved her and understood her, that foreigners
were notoriously treacherous to women, that they were blue-eyed and
cruel-hearted, that they thought only of money and material things.
Let her stay in Japan, let her make her home there. There she would
always be a personage, a member of the family. Among those big,
bold-voiced foreign women, she was overshadowed and out of place. If
her husband left her for a half-caste, what chance had she of keeping
him when once he got back among the women of his own race? Mixed
marriages, in fact, were a mistake, an offence against nature. Even if
he wished to be faithful to her, he could not really care for her as
he could for an Englishwoman.
* * * * *
As soon as Geoffrey Barrington had left the house, Mr. Ito went in
search of the head of the Fujinami, whom he found at work on the
latest literary production of his tame students, _The Pinegrove by the
Mr. Fujinami Gentaro put his writing-box aside with a leisurely
gesture, for a Japanese gentleman of culture must never be in a hurry.
"Indeed, it has been so noisy, composition has become impossible," he
complained; "has that foreigner come, to the house?"
He used the uncomplimentary word "_ket[=o]jin_" which may be literally
translated "hairy rascal". It is a survival from the time of Perry's
black ships and the early days of foreign intercourse, when "Expel the
Barbarians!" was a watchword in the country. Modern Japanese assure
their foreign friends that it has fallen altogether into disuse; but
such is not the case. It is a word loaded with all the hatred, envy
and contempt against foreigners of all nationalities, which still
pervade considerable sections of the Japanese public.
"This Barrington," answered the lawyer, "is indeed a rough fellow,
even for a foreigner. He came into the house with his boots on,
uninvited. He shouted like a coolie, and he broke the _shoji_.
His behaviour was like that of Susa-no-O in the chambers of the
Sun-Goddess. Perhaps he had been drinking whisky-sodas."
"A disgusting thing, is it not?" said the master. "At this time I am
writing an important chapter on the clear mirror of the soul. It is
troublesome to be interrupted by these quarrels of women and savages.
You will have Keiichi and Gor[=o] posted at the door of the house. They
are to refuse entrance to all foreigners. It must not be allowed to
turn our _yashiki_ into a battlefield."
Mr. Fujinami's meditations that morning had been most bitter. His
literary preoccupation was only a sham. There was a tempest in the
political world of Japan. The Government was tottering under the
revelations of a corruption in high places more blatant than usual.
With the fall of the Cabinet, the bribes which the Fujinami had
lavished to obtain the licences and privileges necessary to their
trade, would become waste money. True, the Governor of Osaka had not
yet been replaced. A Fujinami familiar had been despatched thither
at full speed to secure the new Tobita brothel concessions as a _fait
accompli_ before the inevitable change should take place.
The head of the house of Fujinami, therefore, being a monarch in a
small way, had much to think of besides "the quarrels of women and
savages." Moreover, he was not quite sure of his ground with regard to
Asako. To take a wife from her husband against his will, seems to the
Japanese mind so flagrantly illegal a proceeding; and old Mr. Fujinami
Gennosuke had warned his irreligious son most gravely against the
danger of tampering with the testament of Asako's father, and of
provoking thereby a visitation of his "rough spirit."
_Tomo ni narite
Onaji minato wo
Izuru fune no
Yuku-ye mo shirazu
Those ships which left
The same harbour
Side by side
Towards an unknown destination
Have rowed away from one another!
Reggie Forsyth, remaining in Chuzenji, had become a prey to a
most crushing reaction. At the time of trial, he had been calm and
clear-sighted. For a moment he had experienced a sensation of relief
at shaking off the shackles which Yae's fascination had fastened upon
him. He had been aware all along that she was morally worthless. He
was glad to have the matter incontestably proved. But his paradise,
though an artificial one, had been paradise all the same. It had
nourished him with visions and music. Now, he had no companion except
his own irrepressible spirit jibing at his heart's infirmity. He came
to the reluctant conclusion that he must take Yae back again. But she
must never come again to him on the same terms. He would take her for
what she really was, a unique and charming _fille-de-joie_, and he
knew that she would be glad to return. Without something, somebody,
some woman to interest him, he could not face another year in this
Then what about Geoffrey, his friend who had betrayed him? No,
he could not regard him in such a tragic light. He was angry with
Geoffrey, but not indignant. He was angry with him for being a
blunderer, an elephant, for being so easily amenable to Lady Cynthia's
intrigues, for being so good-natured, stupid and gullible. He argued
that if Geoffrey had been a wicked seducer, a bold Don Juan, he would
have excused him and would have felt more sympathy for him. He would
have thoroughly enjoyed sitting down with him to a discussion of Yae's
psychology. But what did an oaf like Geoffrey understand about
that bundle of nerves and instincts, partly primitive and partly
artificial, bred out of an abnormal cross between East and West, and
doomed from conception to a life astray between light and darkness?
He had been disillusioned about his old friend, and he wished never to
see him again.
"What frauds these noble natures are!" he said to himself, "these Old
Honests, these sterling souls! And as an excuse he tells me, 'Nothing
actually happened!' Disgusting!"
'To play with light loves in the portal,
To kiss and embrace and refrain!'
"The virtue of our days is mostly impotence! Lust and passion and love
and marriage! Why do our dull insular minds mix up these four entirely
separate notions? And how can we jump with such goat-like agility from
one circle of thought into another without ever noticing the change in
He strolled over to the piano to put these ideas into music.
Lady Cynthia had decided that it would be bad for him to stop in
Chuzenji. Mountain scenery is demoralising for a nature so Byronic.
He was forthwith despatched to Tokyo to represent his Embassy at a
Requiem Mass to be celebrated for the souls of an Austrian Archduke
and his wife, who had recently been assassinated by a Serbian fanatic
somewhere in Bosnia. Reggie was furious at having to undertake this
mission. For the mountains were soothing to him, and he was not yet
ready for encounters. When he arrived in Tokyo, he was in a very bad
* * * * *
Asako had heard from Tanaka that Reggie Forsyth was expected at the
Embassy. That useful intelligence-officer had been posted by the
Fujinami to keep watch on the Embassy compound, and to report any
movements of importance; for the conspirators were not entirely at
ease as to the legality of abducting the wife of a British subject,
and keeping her against her husband's demands.
Asako had received that day a pathetic letter from Geoffrey, giving
detail for detail his account of his dealings with Yae Smith, begging
her to understand and believe him, and to forgive him for the crime
which he had never committed.
In spite of her cousin's incredulity, Asako's resolution was shaken
by this appeal. At last, now that she had lost her husband, she was
beginning to realise how very much she loved him. Reggie Forsyth would
be a more or less impartial witness.
Late that evening, in a hooded rickshaw she crossed the short distance
which led to the Embassy. Mr. Forsyth had just arrived.
Mr. Forsyth was very displeased to hear Mrs. Barrington announced. It
was just the kind of meeting which would exasperate and unnerve him.
Her appearance was against her. She wore a Japanese kimono,
unpleasantly reminiscent of Yae. Her hair was disordered and
frantic-looking. Her eyes were red with weeping.
"Let me say at once," observed Reggie, as he offered her a chair,
"that I am in no way responsible for your husband's shortcomings. I
have too many of my own."
Asako could never understand Reggie when he talked in that sarcastic
"I want to know exactly what happened," she begged. "I have no one
else who can tell me."
"Your husband says that nothing actually happened," replied Reggie
The girl realised that this statement was far from being the
vindication of Geoffrey which she had begun to hope for.
"But what did you actually see?" she asked.
"I saw Miss Smith with your husband. As it was in my house, they might
have asked my leave first."
"But do you think Geoffrey had been--love-making to Miss Smith?"
"I don't know," said Reggie wearily. "From what I heard, I think Miss
Smith was doing most of the love-making to Geoffrey; but he did not
seem to object to the process."
Asako's yearnings for proof of her husband's innocence were crushed.
"What shall I do?" she pleaded.
"I'm sure I don't know." This scene to Reggie was becoming positively
silly. "Take him back to England as soon as possible, I should think."
"But would he fall in love with women in England?"
"Then what am I to do?"
"Grin and bear it. That's what we all have to do."
"Oh, Mr. Forsyth," Asako implored, "you know my husband so well. Do
you think he is a bad man?"
"No, not worse than the rest of us," answered Reggie, who felt quite
maddened by this talk. "He is a bit of a fool, and a good deal of a
"But do you think Geoffrey was to blame for what happened?"
"I have told you, my dear Mrs. Barrington, that your husband assured
me that nothing actually happened. I am quite sure this is true, for
your husband is a very honourable man--in details."
"You mean," said Asako, gulping out the words, "that Miss Smith was
not actually Geoffrey's--mistress; they did not--sin together."
Asako did not know how intimate were the relations between Reggie and
Yae. She did not understand therefore how cruelly her words lanced
him. But, more than the shafts of memory it was the imbecility of the
whole scene which almost made the young man scream.
"Exactly," he answered. "In the words of the Bible, she lay with him,
but he knew her not."
"Then, do you think I ought to forgive Geoffrey?"
This was too much. Reggie leaped to his feet.
"My dear lady, that is really a question for yourself and yourself
alone. Personally, I do not at present feel like forgiving anybody.
Least of all, can I forgive fools. Geoffrey Harrington is a fool. He
was a fool to marry, a fool to marry you, a fool to come to Japan when
everybody warned him not to, a fool to talk to Yae when everybody
told him that she was a dangerous woman. No, personally, at present I
cannot forgive Geoffrey Barrington. But it is very late and I am very
tired, and I'm sure you are, too. I would advise you to go home to
your erring husband; and to-morrow morning we shall all be thinking
more clearly. As the French say, _L'oreiller raccommode tout_."
Asako still made no movement.
"Well, dear lady, if you wish to wait longer, you will excuse me,
if, instead of talking rot, I play to you. It is more soothing to the
He sat down at the piano, and struck up the _Merry Widow_ chorus,--
"I'll go off to Maxim's: I've done with lovers' dreams;
The girls will laugh and greet me, they will not trick
and cheat me;
Lolo, Dodo, Joujou,
Cloclo, Margot, Frou-frou,
I'm going off to Maxim's, and you may go to--"
The pianist swung around on his stool: his visitor had gone.
* * * * *
"Thank God," he sighed; and within a quarter of an hour he was asleep.
He awoke in the small hours with that sick restless feeling on his
chest, which he described as a conviction of sin.
"Good God!" he said aloud; "what a cad I've been!"
He realised that an unspoiled and gentle creature had paid him
the greatest of all compliments by coming to him for advice in
the extremity of her soul's misery. He had received her with silly
_badinage_ and cheap cynicism.
At breakfast he learned that things were much more serious than he had
imagined, that Asako had actually left her husband and was living with
her Japanese cousins. What he had thought to be a lover's quarrel, he
now recognised to be the shipwreck of two lives. With a kindly word he
might have prevented this disaster.
He drove straight to the Fujinami mansion, at the risk of being late
for the Requiem Mass. He found two evil-eyed hooligans posted at the
gate, who stopped his rickshaw, and, informing him that none of the
Fujinami family were at home, seemed prepared to resist his entry with
During the reception of the Austrian Embassy which followed the
Mass, an incident occurred which altered the whole set of the young
diplomat's thoughts, and, most surprisingly, sent him posting down
to the Imperial Hotel to find Geoffrey Harrington, as one who has
discovered a treasure and must share it with his friend.
The big Englishman was contemplating a whisky-and-soda in the hall of
the hotel. It was by no means the first of its series. He gazed dully
"Thought you were at Chuzenji," he said thickly.
"I had to come down for the special service for the Archduke Franz
Ferdinand," said Reggie, excitedly. "They gave us a regular wake,
champagne by the gallon! Several of the _corps diplomatique_ became
inspired! They saw visions and made prophesyings. Von Falkenturm, the
German military attache, was shouting out, 'We've got to fight. We're
going to fight! We don't care who we fight! Russia, France, England:
yes, the whole lot of them!' The man was drunk, of course; but, after,
all, _in vino veritas_. The rest of the square-heads were getting very
rattled, and at last they succeeded in suppressing Falkenturm. But, I
tell you, Geoffrey, it's coming at last; it's really coming!"
"Why, the Great War. Thank God, it's coming!"
"Why thank God?"
"Because we've all become too artificial and beastly. We want
exterminating, and to start afresh. We shall escape at last from women
and drawing-rooms and silly gossip. We shall become men. It will give
us all something to do and something to think about."
"Yes," echoed Geoffrey, "I wish I could get something to do."
"You'll get it all right. I wish I were a soldier. Are you going to
stop in Japan much longer?"
"No--going next week--going home."
"Look here, I'll put in my resignation right away, and I'll come along
"No, thanks," said Geoffrey, "rather not."
In his excitement Reggie had failed to observe the chilliness of his
friend's demeanour. This snub direct brought up the whole chain of
events, which Reggie had momentarily forgotten, or which were too
recent as yet to have assumed complete reality.
"I'm sorry, Geoffrey," he said, as he rose to go.
"Not at all," said Barrington, ignoring his friend's hand and turning
aside to order another drink.
Geoffrey had a letter in his pocket, received from his wife that
morning. It ran:--
"DEAR GEOFFREY,--I am very sorry. I cannot come back. It is
not only what has happened. I am Japanese. You are English.
You can never really love me. Our marriage was a mistake.
Everybody says so even Reggie Forsyth. I tried my best to want
to come back. I went to Reggie last night, and asked him what
actually happened. He says that our marriage was a mistake,
and that our coming to Japan was a mistake. So do I. I think
we might have been happy in England. I want you to divorce me.
It seems to be very easy in Japan. You only have to write a
letter, which Mr. Ito will give you. Then I can become quite
Japanese again, and Mr. Fujinami can take me back into his
family. Also you will be free to marry an English girl. But
don't have anything to do with Miss Smith. She is a very bad
girl. I shall never marry anybody else. My cousins are very
kind to me. It is much better for me to stay in Japan. Titine
said I was wrong to go away. Please give her fifty pounds from
me, and send her back to France, if she wants to go. I don't
think it is good for us to see each other. We only make
each other unhappy. Tanaka is here. I do not like him now.
From this letter Geoffrey understood that Reggie Forsyth also was
against him. The request for a divorce baffled him entirely. How could
he divorce his wife, when he had nothing against her? In answer, he
wrote another frantic appeal to her to return to him. There was no
Then he left Tokyo for Yokohama--it is only eighteen miles away--to
wait there until his boat started.
Thither he was pursued by Ito.
"I am sorry for you." The revolting little man always began his
discourse now with this exasperating phrase. "Mrs. Barrington would
like very much to obtain the divorce. She wishes very much to have her
name inscribed on family register of Fujinami house. If there is no
divorce, this is not possible."
"But," objected Geoffrey, "it is not so easy to get divorced as to get
"In Japan," said the lawyer, "it is more easy, because we have
"Then there must be a lot of divorces," said Geoffrey grimly.
"There are very many," answered the Japanese, "more than in any other
country. In divorce Japan leads the world. Even the States come second
to our country. Among the low-class persons in Japan there are even
women who have been married thirty-five times, married properly,
honourably and legally. In upper society, too, many divorce, but not
so many, for it makes the family angry."
"Marvellous!" said Geoffrey. "How do you do it?"
"There is divorce by law-courts, as in your country," said Ito. "The
injured party can sue the other party, and the court can grant decree.
But very few Japanese persons go to the court for divorce. It is not
nice, as you say, to wash dirty shirt before all people. So there is
divorce by custom."
"Well?" asked the Englishman.
"Now, as you know, our marriage is also by custom. There is no
ceremony of religion, unless parties desire. Only the man and the
woman go to the _Shiyakusho_, to the office of the city or the
village; and the man say, 'This woman is my wife; please, write her
name on the register of my family,' Then when he want to divorce her,
he goes again to the office of the city and says, 'I have sent my wife
away; please, take her name from the register of my family, and write
it again on the register of her father's family.' You see, our custom
is very convenient. No expense, no trouble."
"Very convenient," Geoffrey agreed.
"So, if Captain Barrington will come with me to the office of Akasaka,
Tokyo, and will give notice that he has sent Mrs. Barrington back
to her family, then the divorce is finished. Mrs. Barrington becomes
again a Japanese subject. Her name becomes Fujinami. She is again one
of her family. This is her prayer to you."
"And Mrs. Barrington's money?" asked Geoffrey sarcastically. "You have
"Oh no," was the answer, "we don't forget the money. Mr. Fujinami
quite understand that it is great loss to send away Mrs. Barrington.
He will give big compensation as much as Captain Barrington desires."
To Ito's surprise, his victim left the table and did not return. So
he inquired from the servants about Captain Barrington's habits;
and learned from the _boy sans_ that the big Englishman drank plenty
whisky-soda; but he did not talk to any one or go to the brothels.
Perhaps he was a little mad.
* * * * *
Ito returned to the charge next day. This time Geoffrey had an
inspiration. He said that if he could be granted an interview alone
with Asako, he would discuss with her the divorce project, and would
consent, if she asked him personally. After some demur, the lawyer
The last interview between husband and wife took place in Ito's
office, which Geoffrey had visited once before in his search for the
fortune of the Fujinami. The scene of the rendezvous was well chosen
to repress any revival of old emotions. The varnished furniture, the
sham mahogany, the purple plush upholstery, the gilt French clock, the
dirty bust of Abraham Lincoln and the polyglot law library checked the
tender word and the generous impulse. The Japanese have an instinctive
knowledge of the influence of inanimate things, and use this knowledge
with an unscrupulousness, which the crude foreigner only realises--if
ever--after it is too late.
Geoffrey's wife appeared hand in hand with cousin Sadako. There was
nothing English in her looks. She had become completely Japanese
from her black helmet-like _coiffure_ to the little white feet which
shuffled over the dusty carpet. There was no hand-shaking. The
two women sat down stiffly on chairs against the wall remote from
Geoffrey, like two swallows perched uneasily on an unsteady wire.
Asako held a fan. There was complete silence.
"I wish to see my wife alone," said Geoffrey.
He spoke to Ito, who grinned with embarrassment and looked at the two
women. Asako shook her head.
"I made it quite clear to you, Mr. Ito," said Geoffrey angrily, "that
this was my condition. I understand that pressure has been used to
keep my wife away from me. I will apply to my Embassy to get her
Ito muttered under his breath. That was a contingency which he had
greatly dreaded. He turned to Sadako Fujinami and spoke to her in
voluble Japanese. Sadako whispered in her cousin's ear. Then she rose
and withdrew with Ito.
Geoffrey was left alone with Asako. But was she really the same Asako?
Geoffrey had often seen upper class Japanese ladies at receptions in
the hotel at Tokyo. He had thought how picturesque they were, how well
mannered, how excellent their taste in dress. But they had seemed
to him quite unreal, denizens of a shadow world of bowing, gliding
He now realised that his former wife had become entirely a Japanese,
a person absolutely different from himself, a visitant from another
sphere. He was English she was Japanese. They were divorced already.
The big man rose from his chair, and held out his hand to his wife.
"I'm sorry, little Asako!" he said, very gently. "You are quite right.
It was a mistake. Good-bye, and--God bless you always!"
With immense relief and gratitude she took the giant's paw in her
own tiny hand. It seemed to have lost its grip, to have become like a
He opened the door for her. Once again, as on the altar-steps of St.
George's, the tall shoulders bent over the tiny figure with a movement
of instinctive protection and tenderness. He closed the door behind
her, recrossed the room and stared into the empty fireplace.
After a time, Ito returned. The two men went together to the district
office of the Akasaka Ward. There Geoffrey signed a declaration
in Japanese and English to the effect that his marriage with Asako
Fujinami was cancelled, and that she was free to return to her
Next morning, at daylight his ship left Yokohama.
Before he reached Liverpool, war had been declared.
Nete mitsu kaya no
When I rise, I look--
When I lie down, I look--
Alas, how vast is the mosquito-curtain.
Asako Barrington was restored to the name and home of the Fujinami.
Her action had been the result of hereditary instinct, of the
natural current of circumstances, and of the adroit diplomacy of her
relatives. She had been hunted and caught like a wild animal; and
she was soon to find that the walls of her enclosure, which at first
seemed so wide that she perceived them not, were closing in upon her
day by day as in a mediaeval torture chamber, forcing her step by step
towards the unfathomable pit of Japanese matrimony.
The Fujinami had not adopted their foreign cousin out of pure
altruism. Far from it. Like Japanese in general, they resented the
intrusion of a "_tanin_" (outside person) into their intimacy. They
took her for what she was worth to them.
Since Asako was now a member of the family, custom allowed Mr.
Fujinami Gentaro to control her money. But Mr. Ito warned his patron
that, legally, the money was still hers, and hers alone, and that in
case of her marrying a second time it might again slip away. It was
imperative, therefore, to the policy of the Fujinami house that Asako
should marry a Fujinami, and that as soon as possible.
A difficulty here arose, not that Asako might object to her new
husband--it never occurred to the Fujinami that this stranger from
Europe might have opinions quite opposed to Japanese conventions--but
that there were very few adequately qualified suitors. Indeed, in the
direct line of succession there was only young Mr. Fujinami Takeshi,
the youth with the purple blotches, who had distinguished himself
by his wit and his _savoir vivre_ on the night of the first family
True, he had a wife already; but she could easily be divorced, as
her family were nobodies. If he married Asako, however, was he still
capable of breeding healthy children? Of course, he might adopt the
children whom he already possessed by his first wife, but the
elder boy showed signs of being mentally deficient, the younger was
certainly deaf and dumb, and the two others were girls and did not
Grandfather Fujinami Gennosuke, who hated and despised his grandson,
was for sweeping him and his brood out of the way altogether, and for
adopting a carefully selected and creditable _yoshi_ (adopted son) by
marriage with either Sadako or Asako.
"But if this Asa is barren?" said Mrs. Fujinami Shidzuye, who
naturally desired that her daughter Sadako's husband should be the
heir of the Fujinami. "That Englishman was strong and healthy. There
was living together for more than a year, and still no child."
"If she is barren, then a son must be adopted," said the old
"To adopt twice in succession is unlucky," objected Mr. Fujinami
"Then," said Mrs. Shidzuye, "the old woman of Akabo shall come
for consultation. She shall tell if it is possible for her to have
Akabo was the up-country village, whence the first Fujinami had come
to Tokyo to seek his fortune. The Japanese never completely loses
touch with his ancestral village; and for over a hundred years the
Tokyo Fujinami had paid their annual visit to the mountains of the
North to render tribute to the graves of their forefathers. They still
preserved an inherited faith in the "wise woman" of the district,
who from time to time was summoned to the capital to give her advice.
Their other medical counselor was Professor Kashio, who held degrees
from Munich and Vienna.
* * * * *
During the first days of her self-chosen widowhood Asako was little
better than a convalescent. She had never looked at sorrow before; and
the shock of what she had seen had paralyzed her vitality without as
yet opening her understanding. Like a dog, who in the midst of
his faithful affection has been struck for a fault of which he is
unconscious, she took refuge in darkness, solitude and despair.
The Japanese, who are as a rule intuitively aware of others' emotions,
recognized her case. A room was prepared for her in a distant wing of
the straggling house, a "foreign-style" room in an upper story with
glass in the windows--stained glass too--with white muslin blinds, a
colored lithograph of Napoleon and a real bed, recently purchased on
Sadako's pleading that everything must be done to make life happy for
"But she is a Japanese," Mr. Fujinami Gentaro had objected. "It is not
right that a Japanese should sleep upon a tall bed. She must learn to
give up luxurious ways."
Sadako protested that her cousin's health was not yet assured; and so
discipline was relaxed for a time.
Asako spent most of her days in the tall bed, gazing through the open
doorway, across the polished wood veranda like the toffee veranda of
a confectioner's model, past the wandering branch of an old twisted
pine-tree which crouched by the side of the mansion like a faithful
beast, over the pigmy landscape of the garden, to the scale-like roofs
of the distant city, and to the pagoda on the opposite hill.
It rested her to lie thus and look at her country. From time to time