“All Ingiris’ danna san come Nagasaki,” the talkative maid went on, “want Japanese girl. Ingiris’ danna san kind man, but too plenty drink. Japanese danna san not kind, not good. Ingiris’ danna san plenty money, plenty. Nagasaki girl very many foreign danna san. Rashamen wa Nagasaki meibutsu (foreigners’ mistresses famous product of Nagasaki). Ingiris’ danna san go away all the time. One year, two year—then go away to Ingiris’ country.”
“Then what does the Japanese girl do?” asked Asako.
“Other danna san come,” was the laconic reply. “Ingiris’ danna san live in Japan, Japanese girl very nice. Ingiris’ danna san go away, no want Japanese girl. Japanese girl no want go away Japan. Japanese girl go to other country, she feel very sick; heart very lonely, very sad!”
A weird, unpleasant feeling had stolen into the little room, the presence of unfamiliar thoughts and of foreign moralities, birds of unhealth.
The two other girls who could not speak English were posing for Geoffrey’s benefit; one of them reclining against the framework of the open window with her long kimono sleeves crossed in front of her like wings, her painted oval face fixed on him in spite of the semblance of downcast eyes; the other squatting on her heels in a corner of the room with the same demure expression and with her hands folded in her lap. Despite the quietness of the poses they were as challenging in their way as the swinging hips of Piccadilly. It is as true to-day as it was in Kaempffer’s time, the old Dutch traveler of two hundred and fifty years ago, that every hotel in Japan is a brothel, and every tea-house and restaurant a house of assignation.
From a wing of the building near by came the twanging of a string, like a banjo string being tuned in fantastic quarter tones. A few sharp notes were struck, at random it seemed, followed by a few bars of a quavering song and then a burst of clownish laughter. Young bloods of Nagasaki had called in geisha to amuse them at their meal.
“Japanese geisha,” said the tea-house girl, “if danna san wish to see geisha dance—?”
“No thank you,” said Geoffrey, hurriedly, “Asako darling, it is time we went home: we want our dinners.”
Modashi-ite Sakashira suru wa Sake nomite Yei-naki suru ni Nao shikazu keri.
To sit silent
And look wise
Is not to be compared with
And making a riotous shouting.
As soon as the meal was over, Asako went to bed. She was tired out by an orgy of sight-seeing and new impressions. Geoffrey said that he would have a short walk and a smoke before turning in. He took the road which led towards the harbour of Nagasaki.