Count Saito smiled again and said:
“I see that you are an idealist like so many Englishmen. But I am only a practical statesman. The problem of vice is a problem of government. No law can abolish it. It is for us statesmen to study how to restrain it and its evil consequences. Three hundred years ago these women used to walk about the streets as they do in London to-day. Tokugawa Iyeyasu, the greatest of all Japanese statesmen, who gave peace to the whole country, put in order this untidiness also. He had the Yoshiwara built, and he put all the women there, where the police could watch both them and the men who visited them. The English might learn from us here, I think. But you are an unruly people. It is not only that you object for ideal reasons to the imprisonment of these women; but it is your men who would object very strongly to having the eye of the policeman watching them when they paid their visits.”
Geoffrey was silenced by the experience of his host. He was afraid, as most Englishmen are, of arguing that the British determination to ignore vice, however disastrous in practice, is a system infinitely nobler in conception than the acquiescence which admits for the evil its right to exist, and places it among the commonplaces of life.
“And how about the people who make money out of such a place?” asked Geoffrey. “They must be contemptible specimens.”
The face of the wise statesman became suddenly gentle.
“I really don’t know much about them,” he said. “If we do meet them they do not boast about it.”
Ara omoshiro no
Yes, but attractive
Are the flowers which bloom out of season.
Although he felt a decreasing interest in the Japanese people, Geoffrey was enjoying his stay in Tokyo. He was tired of traveling, and was glad to settle down in the semblance of a home life.
He was very keen on his tennis. It was also a great pleasure to see so much of Reggie Forsyth. Besides, he was conscious of the mission assigned to him by Lady Cynthia Cairns to save his friend from the dangerous connection with Yae Smith.
Reggie and he had been at Eton together. Geoffrey, four years the senior, a member of “Pop,” and an athlete of many colours, found himself one day the object of an almost idolatrous worship on the part of a skinny little being, discreditably clever at Latin verses, and given over to the degrading habit of solitary piano practicing on half-holidays. He was embarrassed but touched by a devotion which was quite incomprehensible to him; and he encouraged it furtively. When Geoffrey left Eton the friends did not see each other again for some years, though they watched each other’s careers from a distance, mutually appreciative. Their next meeting took