“They are bad creatures,” was the reply, “nobody likes to see a fox; they fool people.”
“Then why say prayers, if they are bad?”
“It is just because they are bad,” said Sadako, “that we must please them. We flatter them so that they may not hurt us.”
Asako was unlearned in the difference between religion and devil-worship, so she did not understand the full significance of this remark. But she felt an unpleasant reaction, the first which she had received that day; and she thought to herself that if she were the mistress of that lovely garden, she would banish the stone foxes and risk their displeasure.
The two girls returned to the house. Its shutters were up, and it, too, had that same appearance of a Noah’s Ark but of a more complete and expensive variety. One little opening was left in the wooden armature for the girls to enter by.
“Please come again many, many times,” was cousin Sadako’s last farewell. “The house of the Fujinami is your home. Sayonara!”
* * * * *
Geoffrey was waiting for his wife in the hall of the hotel. He was anxious at her late return. His embrace seemed to swallow her up to the amusement of the boy sans who had been discussing the lateness of okusan, and the possibility of her having an admirer.
“Thank goodness,” said Geoffrey, “what have you been doing? I was just going to organise a search party.”
“I have been with Mrs. Fujinami and Sadako,” Asako panted, “they would not let me go; and oh!”—She was going to tell him all about her mother’s picture; but she suddenly checked herself, and said instead, “They’ve got such a lovely garden.”
She described the home of the cousins in glowing colours, the hospitality of the family, the cleverness of cousin Sadako, and the lessons which they were going to exchange. Yes, she replied to Geoffrey’s questions, she had seen the memorial tablets of her father and mother, and their wedding photograph. But a strange paralysis sealed her lips, and her soul became inarticulate. She found herself absolutely incapable of telling that big foreign husband of hers, truly as she loved him, the veritable state of her emotions when brought face to face with her dead parents.
Geoffrey had never spoken to her of her mother. He had never seemed to have the least interest in her identity. These “Jap women,” as he called them, were never very real to him. She dreaded the possibility of revealing to him her secret, and then of receiving no response to her emotion. Also she had an instinctive reluctance to emphasise in Geoffrey’s mind her kinship with these alien people.
After dinner, when she had gone up to her room, Geoffrey was left alone with his cigar and his reflection.
“Funny that she did not speak more about her father and mother. But I suppose they don’t mean much to her, after all. And, by Jove, it’s a good thing for me! I wouldn’t like to have a wife who was all the time running home to her people, and comparing notes with her mother.”