Geoffrey’s wife appeared hand in hand with cousin Sadako. There was nothing English in her looks. She had become completely Japanese from her black helmet-like coiffure to the little white feet which shuffled over the dusty carpet. There was no hand-shaking. The two women sat down stiffly on chairs against the wall remote from Geoffrey, like two swallows perched uneasily on an unsteady wire. Asako held a fan. There was complete silence.
“I wish to see my wife alone,” said Geoffrey.
He spoke to Ito, who grinned with embarrassment and looked at the two women. Asako shook her head.
“I made it quite clear to you, Mr. Ito,” said Geoffrey angrily, “that this was my condition. I understand that pressure has been used to keep my wife away from me. I will apply to my Embassy to get her restored.”
Ito muttered under his breath. That was a contingency which he had greatly dreaded. He turned to Sadako Fujinami and spoke to her in voluble Japanese. Sadako whispered in her cousin’s ear. Then she rose and withdrew with Ito.
Geoffrey was left alone with Asako. But was she really the same Asako? Geoffrey had often seen upper class Japanese ladies at receptions in the hotel at Tokyo. He had thought how picturesque they were, how well mannered, how excellent their taste in dress. But they had seemed to him quite unreal, denizens of a shadow world of bowing, gliding figures.
He now realised that his former wife had become entirely a Japanese, a person absolutely different from himself, a visitant from another sphere. He was English she was Japanese. They were divorced already.
The big man rose from his chair, and held out his hand to his wife.
“I’m sorry, little Asako!” he said, very gently. “You are quite right. It was a mistake. Good-bye, and—God bless you always!”
With immense relief and gratitude she took the giant’s paw in her own tiny hand. It seemed to have lost its grip, to have become like a Japanese hand.
He opened the door for her. Once again, as on the altar-steps of St. George’s, the tall shoulders bent over the tiny figure with a movement of instinctive protection and tenderness. He closed the door behind her, recrossed the room and stared into the empty fireplace.
After a time, Ito returned. The two men went together to the district office of the Akasaka Ward. There Geoffrey signed a declaration in Japanese and English to the effect that his marriage with Asako Fujinami was cancelled, and that she was free to return to her father’s family.
Next morning, at daylight his ship left Yokohama.
Before he reached Liverpool, war had been declared.
Nete mitsu kaya no
When I rise, I look—
When I lie down, I look—
Alas, how vast is the mosquito-curtain.