As soon as Geoffrey Barrington had left the house, Mr. Ito went in search of the head of the Fujinami, whom he found at work on the latest literary production of his tame students, The Pinegrove by the Sea-shore.
Mr. Fujinami Gentaro put his writing-box aside with a leisurely gesture, for a Japanese gentleman of culture must never be in a hurry.
“Indeed, it has been so noisy, composition has become impossible,” he complained; “has that foreigner come, to the house?”
He used the uncomplimentary word “ket[=o]jin” which may be literally translated “hairy rascal”. It is a survival from the time of Perry’s black ships and the early days of foreign intercourse, when “Expel the Barbarians!” was a watchword in the country. Modern Japanese assure their foreign friends that it has fallen altogether into disuse; but such is not the case. It is a word loaded with all the hatred, envy and contempt against foreigners of all nationalities, which still pervade considerable sections of the Japanese public.
“This Barrington,” answered the lawyer, “is indeed a rough fellow, even for a foreigner. He came into the house with his boots on, uninvited. He shouted like a coolie, and he broke the shoji. His behaviour was like that of Susa-no-O in the chambers of the Sun-Goddess. Perhaps he had been drinking whisky-sodas.”
“A disgusting thing, is it not?” said the master. “At this time I am writing an important chapter on the clear mirror of the soul. It is troublesome to be interrupted by these quarrels of women and savages. You will have Keiichi and Gor[=o] posted at the door of the house. They are to refuse entrance to all foreigners. It must not be allowed to turn our yashiki into a battlefield.”
Mr. Fujinami’s meditations that morning had been most bitter. His literary preoccupation was only a sham. There was a tempest in the political world of Japan. The Government was tottering under the revelations of a corruption in high places more blatant than usual. With the fall of the Cabinet, the bribes which the Fujinami had lavished to obtain the licences and privileges necessary to their trade, would become waste money. True, the Governor of Osaka had not yet been replaced. A Fujinami familiar had been despatched thither at full speed to secure the new Tobita brothel concessions as a fait accompli before the inevitable change should take place.
The head of the house of Fujinami, therefore, being a monarch in a small way, had much to think of besides “the quarrels of women and savages.” Moreover, he was not quite sure of his ground with regard to Asako. To take a wife from her husband against his will, seems to the Japanese mind so flagrantly illegal a proceeding; and old Mr. Fujinami Gennosuke had warned his irreligious son most gravely against the danger of tampering with the testament of Asako’s father, and of provoking thereby a visitation of his “rough spirit.”