Upstairs in her bedroom, Asako had unrolled the precious obi. An unmounted photograph came fluttering out of the parcel. It was a portrait of her father alone taken a short time before his death. At the back of the photograph was some Japanese writing.
“Is Tanaka there?” Asako asked her maid Titine.
Yes, of course, Tanaka was there, in the next room with his ear near the door.
“Tanaka, what does this mean?”
“Japanese poem,” he said, “meaning very difficult: very many meanings: I think perhaps it means, having travelled all over the world, he feels very sad.”
“Yes, but word for word, Tanaka, what does it mean?”
“This writing means, World is really not the same it says: all the world very many tell lies.”
“This means, Travelling everywhere.”
“And this at the end?”
“It means, Eveything always the same thing. Very bad translation I make. Very sad poem.”
“And this writing here?”
“That is Japanese name—Fujinami Katsundo—and the date, twenty-fifth year of Meiji, twelfth month.”
Tanaka had turned over the photograph and was looking attentively at the portrait.
“The honoured father of Ladyship, I think,” he said.
“Yes,” said Asako.
Then she thought she heard her husband’s step away down the corridor. Hurriedly she thrust obi and photograph into a drawer.
Now, why did she do that? wondered Tanaka.
THE DWARF TREES
Iwa-yado ni Tateru maisu no ki, Na wo mireba, Mukashi no hito wo Ai-miru gotashi.
O pine-tree standing
At the (side of) the stone house,
When I look at you,
It is like seeing face to face
The men of old time.
For the first time during the journey of their married lives, Geoffrey and Asako were pursuing different paths. It is the normal thing, no doubt, for the man to go out to his work and to his play, while the wife attends to her social and domestic duties. The evening brings reunion with new impressions and new interests to discuss. Such a life with its brief restorative separations prevents love growing stale, and soothes the irritation of nerves which, by the strain of petty repetitions, are exasperated sometimes into blasphemy of the heart’s true creed. But the Barrington menage was an unusual one. By adopting a life of travel, they had devoted themselves to a protracted honeymoon, a relentless tete-a-tete. So long as they were continually on the move, constantly refreshed by new scenes, they did not feel the difficulty of their self-imposed task. But directly their stay in Tokyo seemed likely to become permanent, their ways separated as naturally as two branches, which have been tightly bound together, spread apart with the loosening of the string.