Alone, in her bare room—her only companion a flaky yellow chrysanthemum nodding in the draught—Asako sobbed and sobbed as though her heart were breaking. Somebody tapped at the sliding shutter. Asako could not answer. The shoji was pushed open, and Tanaka entered.
Asako was glad to see him. Alone of the household Tanaka was still deferential in his attitude towards his late mistress. He was always ready to talk about the old times which gave her a bitter pleasure.
“If Ladyship is so sad,” he began, as he had been coached in his part beforehand by the Fujinami, “why Ladyship stay in this house? Change house, change trouble, we say.”
“But where can I go?” Asako asked helplessly.
“Ladyship has pretty house by river brink,” suggested Tanaka. “Ladyship can stay two month, three month. Then the springtime come and Ladyship feel quite happy again. Even I, in the winter season, I find the mind very distress. It is often so.”
To be alone, to be free from the daily insults and cruelty; this in itself would be happiness to Asako.
“But will Mr. Fujinami allow me to go?” she asked, timorously.
“Ladyship must be brave,” said the counselor. “Ladyship is not prisoner. Ladyship must say, I go. But perhaps I can arrange matter for Ladyship.”
“Oh, Tanaka, please, please do. I’m so unhappy here.”
“I will hire cook and maid for Ladyship. I myself will be seneschal!”
Mr. Fujinami Gentaro and his family were delighted to hear that their plan was working so smoothly, and that they could so easily get rid of their embarrassing cousin. The “seneschal” was instructed at once to see about arrangements for the house, which had not been lived in since its new tenancy.
Next evening, when Asako had spread the two quilts on the golden matting, when she had lit the rushlight in the square andon, when the two girls were lying side by side under the heavy wadded bedclothes, Sadako said to her cousin:
“Asa Chan, I do not think you like me now as much as you used to like me.”
“I always like people when I have once liked them,” said Asako; “but everything is different now.”
“I see, your heart changes quickly,” said her cousin bitterly.
“No, I have tried to change, but I cannot change. I have tried to become Japanese, but I cannot even learn the Japanese language. I do not like the Japanese way of living. In France and in England I was always happy. I don’t think I shall ever be happy again.”
“You ought to be more grateful,” said Sadako severely. “We have saved you from your husband, who was cruel and deceitful—”
“No, I don’t believe that now. My husband and I loved each other always. You people came between us with wicked lies and separated us.”
“Anyhow, you have made the choice. You have chosen to be Japanese. You can never be English again.”