Reggie Forsyth understood the pathos of the girl’s position; and being a rebel and an anarchist at heart, he readily condoned the faults which she confided to him frankly. Gradually Pity, most dangerous of all counsellors, revealed her to him as a girl romantically unfortunate, who never had a fair chance in life, who had been the sport of bad men and fools, who needed only a measure of true friendship and affection for the natural sunshine of her disposition to scatter the rank vapours of her soul’s night. What Reggie grasped only in that one enlightened moment when he had christened her Lamia, was the tragic fact that she had no soul.
THE GREAT BUDDHA
Tachitsu itsu netsu
The sea-shore of Mitsu! Standing, sitting or lying down, How lovely is the moonlight night!
Before the iris had quite faded, and before the azaleas of Hibiya were set ablaze—in Japan they count the months by the blossoming of the flowers—Reggie Forsyth had deserted Tokyo for the joys of sea bathing at Kamakura. He attended at the Embassy for office hours during the morning, but returned to the seaside directly after lunch. This departure disarranged Geoffrey’s scheme for his friend’s salvation; for he was not prepared to go the length of sacrificing his daily game of tennis.
“What do you want to leave us for?” he remonstrated.
“The bathing,” said Reggie, “is heavenly. Besides, next month I have to go into villegiatura with my chief. I must prepare myself for the strain with prayer and fasting. But why don’t you come down and join us?”
“Is there any tennis?” asked Geoffrey.
“There is a court, a grass court with holes in it; but I’ve never seen anybody playing.”
“Then what is there to do?”
“Oh, bathing and sleeping and digging in the sand and looking at temples and bathing again; and next week there is a dance.”
“Well, we might come down for that if her Ladyship agrees. How is Lamia?”
“Don’t call her that, please. She has got a soul after all. But it is rather a disobedient one. It runs away like a little dog, and goes rabbit-hunting for days on end. She is in great form. We motor in the moonlight.”
“Then I think it is quite time I did come,” said Geoffrey.
So the Harringtons arrived in their sumptuous car on the afternoon before the dance of which Reggie Forsyth had spoken.
On the beach they found him in a blue bathing-costume sitting under an enormous paper umbrella with Miss Smith and the gipsy half-caste girl. Yae wore a cotton kimono of blue and white, and she looked like a figurine from a Nanking vase.
“Geoffrey,” said the young diplomat, “come into the sea at once. You look thoroughly dirty. Do you like sea-bathing, Mrs. Harrington?”