“What’s that, old chap?”
“When a fellow announces his engagement to the dearest little girl in all the world, his friends offer their congratulations. It’s Good Form,” he added maliciously.
THE RAINY SEASON
Ware ikite ir
Poisonous delicacies (last night)!
And I am still alive.
Geoffrey Barrington tried not to worry about Yae Smith; and, of course, he did not mention the episode of the Great Buddha either to his wife or to Reggie Forsyth. He did not exactly feel ashamed of the incident; but he realised that it was open to misinterpretation. He certainly had no love for Yae; and she, since she was engaged to his friend, presumably had no love for him. There are certain unnatural states of mind in which we are not altogether morally responsible beings. Among these may be numbered the ballroom mood, which drives quite sane people to act madly. The music, the wine, the giddy turning, the display of women’s charms and the confusing proximity of them produce an unwonted atmosphere, of which we have most of us been aware, so bewildering that admiration of one woman will drive sane men to kiss another. Explanation is of course impossible; and circumstances must have their way. Scheming people, mothers with daughters to marry, study the effects of this psychical chemistry and profit by their knowledge. Under similar influences Geoffrey himself had been guilty of wilder indiscretions than the kissing of a half-caste girl.
But when he thought the matter over, he was sorry that it had occurred; and he was profoundly thankful that nobody had seen him.
Somebody had seen him, however.
The faithful Tanaka, who had been charged by Mr. Ito, the Fujinami lawyer, not to let his master out of his sight, had followed him at a discreet distance during the whole of that midnight stroll. He had observed the talk and the attitudes, the silences and the holding of hands, the glad exchange of kisses, the sitting of Yae on Geoffrey’s knees, and her triumphant return, carried in his arms.
To the Japanese mind such conduct could only mean one thing. The Japanese male is frankly animal where women are concerned. He does not understand our fine shades of self-deception, which give to our love-making the thrill of surprise and the palliation of romance. Tanaka concluded that there could be only one termination to the scene which he had witnessed.
He also learned that Yae Smith was Reggie Forsyth’s mistress, that he visited her room at night, that she was a girl of no character at all, that she had frequently stopped at the Kamakura hotel with other men, all of them her lovers.
All this information Tanaka collected with a wealth and precision of detail which is only possible in Japan, where the espionage habit is so deeply implanted in the every-day life of the people.