This separation was so inevitable that they were neither of them conscious of it. Geoffrey had all his life been devoted to exercise and games of all kinds. They were as necessary as food for his big body. At Tokyo he had found, most unexpectedly, excellent tennis-courts and first-class players.
They still spent the mornings together, driving round the city, and inspecting curios. So what could be more reasonable than that Asako should prefer to spend her afternoons with her cousin, who was so anxious to please her and to initiate her into that intimate Japanese life, which of course must appeal to her more strongly than to her husband?
Personally, Geoffrey found the company of his Japanese relatives exceedingly slow.
In return for the hospitalities of the Maple Club the Barringtons invited a representative gathering of the Fujinami clan to dinner at the Imperial Hotel, to be followed by a general adjournment to the theatre.
It was a most depressing meal. Nobody spoke. All of the guests were nervous; some of them about their clothes, some about their knives and forks, all of them about their English. They were too nervous even to drink wine, which would have been the only remedy for such a “frost.”
Only Ito, the lawyer, talked, talked noisily, talked with his mouth full. But Geoffrey disliked Ito. He mistrusted the man; but, because of his wife’s growing intimacy with her cousins, he felt loath to start subterranean inquiries as to the whereabouts of her fortune. It was Ito who, foreseeing embarrassment, had suggested the theatre party after dinner. For this at least Geoffrey was grateful to him. It saved him the pain of trying to make conversation with his cousins.
“Talking to these Japs,” he said to Reggie Forsyth, “is like trying to play tennis all by yourself.”
Later on, at his wife’s insistence, he attended an informal garden-party at the Fujinami house. Again he suffered acutely from those cruel silences and portentous waitings, to which he noticed that even the Japanese among themselves were liable, but which apparently they did not mind.
Tea and ice-creams were served by geisha girls who danced afterwards upon the lawn. When this performance was over the guests were conducted to an open space behind the cherry-grove, where a little shooting-range had been set up, with a target, air-guns and boxes of lead lugs. Geoffrey, of course, joined in the shooting-competition, and won a handsome cigarette case inlaid with Damascene work. But he thought that it was a poor game; nor did he ever realize that this entertainment had been specially organized with a view to flattering his military and sporting tastes.