Waga ko nari.
The thief— When I caught him and looked at him, Lo! My own child!
A week of very hard work began for Reggie. The Ambassador was reporting home on every imaginable subject from political assassination to the manufacture of celluloid. This was part of Lady Cynthia’s scheme. She was determined to throw Yae Smith and Geoffrey Barrington together all the time, and to risk the consequences.
So Yae though she had her room at the hotel, became an inmate of Reggie’s villa. She took all her meals there, and her siesta during most of the afternoons. She even passed whole nights with Reggie; and their relations could no longer be a secret even to Geoffrey’s laborious discretion.
This knowledge troubled him; for the presence of lovers, and the shadows cast by their intimacies are always disquieting even to the purest minds. But Geoffrey felt that it was no business of his; and that Reggie and Yae being what they were, it would be useless hypocrisy for him to censure their pleasures.
Meanwhile, Asako was writing to him, bewailing her loneliness. So one morning at breakfast he announced that he must be getting back to Tokyo. A cloud passed over Yae’s face.
“Not yet, big captain,” she expostulated; “I want to take you right to the far end of the lake where the bears live.”
“Very well,” agreed Geoffrey, “to-morrow morning early, then; for the next day I really must go.”
He wrote to Asako a long letter with much about the lake and Yae Smith, promising to return within forty-eight hours.
At daybreak next morning Yae was hammering at Geoffrey’s door.
“Wake up, old sleepy captain,” she cried.
Geoffrey got the boat ready; and Yae prepared a picnic breakfast to be eaten on the way. Poor Reggie, of course, had work at the Embassy; he could not come.
It was an ideal excursion. They reached Senju, the wood-cutter’s village at the end of the lake. They ascended the forest path as far as the upper lake, a mere pond of reeds and sedges, which the bears are supposed to haunt.
Geoffrey and Yae, however, saw nothing more alarming than the village curs.
“Returned in safety from the land of danger!” cried the girl, as she sprang ashore at the steps of the villa.
The air and exercise had wearied Geoffrey. After lunch he changed into a kimono of Reggie’s. Then he lay down on his bed and was soon fast asleep.
How long he slept he could not say; but he awoke slowly out of confusing dreams. Somebody was in his room. Somebody was near his bed. Was it Asako? Was it a dream?
No, it was his comrade of the morning’s voyage. It was Yae Smith. She was sitting on the bed beside him. She was gazing into his face with her soft, still, cat-like eyes. What was she doing that for? She was stroking his arm. Her touch was soft. He did not stop her.