Her father had left no papers, only his photograph, the picture of a delicate, good-looking, sad-faced man in black cloak and kimono, and a little French book called Pensees de Pascal, at the end of which was written the address of Mr. Ito, the lawyer in Tokyo through whom the dividends were paid, and that of “my cousin Fujinami Gentaro.”
Tsuyu no yo no
Tsuyu no yo nagara
While this dewdrop world
Is but a dewdrop world,
Yet—all the same!—
The fabric of our lives is like a piece of knitting, terribly botched and bungled in most cases. There are stitches which are dropped, sometimes to be swallowed up and forgotten in the superstructure, sometimes to be picked up again after a lapse of years. These stitches are old friendships.
The first stitch from Geoffrey’s bachelor days to be worked back into the scheme of his married life was his friendship for Reggie Forsyth, who had been best man at his wedding and who had since then been appointed Secretary to the Embassy at Tokyo.
Reggie had received a telegram saying that Geoffrey was coming. He was very pleased. He had reached that stage in the progress of exile where one is inordinately happy to see any old friend. In fact, he was beginning to be “fed up” with Japan, with its very limited distractions, and with the monotony of his diplomatic colleagues.
Instead of going to the tennis court, which was his usual afternoon occupation, he had spent the time in arranging his rooms, shifting the furniture, rehanging the pictures, paying especial care to the disposition of his Oriental curios, his recent purchases, his last enthusiasms in this land of languor. Reggie collected Buddhas, Chinese snuff-bottles and lacquered medicine cases—called inro in Japanese.
“Caviare to the general!” murmured Reggie, as he gloated over a chaste design of fishes in mother-of-pearl, a pseudo-Korin. “Poor old Geoffrey! He’s only a barbarian; but perhaps she will be interested. Here, T[=o]!” he called out to an impassive Japanese man-servant, “have the flowers come yet, and the little trees?”
T[=o] produced from the back regions of the house a quantity of dwarf trees, planted as miniature landscapes in shallow porcelain dishes, and big fronds of budding cherry blossom.
Reggie arranged the blossom in a triumphal arch over the corner table, where stood the silent company of the Buddhas. From among the trees he chose his favourite, a kind of dwarf cedar, to place between the window, opening on to a sunny veranda, and an old gold screen, across whose tender glory wound the variegated comicality of an Emperor’s traveling procession, painted by a Kano artist of three centuries ago.
He removed the books which were lying about the room—grim Japanese grammars, and forbidding works on International Law; and in their place he left volumes of poetry and memoirs, and English picture-papers strewn about in artistic disorder. Then he gave the silver frames of his photographs to To to be polished, the photographs of fair women signed with Christian names, of diplomats in grand uniforms, and of handsome foreigners.