But to Geoffrey, when he broke up the gathering, the boy sans were just a lot of queer little Japs.
Asako was lying on her sofa, reading. Titine was brushing her hair. Asako, when she read, which was not often, preferred literature of the sentimental school, books like The Rosary, with stained glass in them, and tragedy overcome by nobleness of character.
“I’ve been lonely without you and nervous,” she said, “and I’ve had a visitor already.”
She pointed to a card lying on a small round table, a flimsy card printed—not engraved—on cream-coloured pasteboard. Geoffrey picked it up with a smile.
“Curio dealers?” he asked.
Japanese letters were printed on one side and English on the other.
[Illustration: S. ITO Attorney of Law]
“Ito, that’s the lawyer fellow, who pays the dividends. Did you see him.”
“Oh, no, I was much too weary. But he has only just gone. You probably passed him on the stairs.”
Geoffrey could only think of the vivid gentleman, who had been talking with Tanaka. The guide was sent for and questioned, but he knew nothing. The gentleman in green had merely stopped to ask him the time.
THE HALF-CASTE GIRL
Tsubasa wa ugoku
Even when it settles
Its wings are moving.
Next morning it was snowing and bitterly cold. Snow in Japan, snow in April, snow upon the cherry trees, what hospitality was this?
The snow fell all day, muffling the silent city. Silence is at all times one of Tokyo’s characteristics. For so large and important a metropolis it is strangely silent always. The only continuous street noise is the grating and crackling of the trams. The lumbering of horse vehicles and the pulsation of motor traffic are absent; for as beasts of burden horses are more costly than men, and in 1914 motor cars were still a novelty. Since the war boom, of course, every narikin (nouveau riche) has rushed to buy his car; but even so, the state of the roads, which alternate between boulders and slush, do not encourage the motorist, and are impassable for heavy lorries. So incredible weights and bundles are moved on hand-barrows; and bales of goods and stacks of produce are punted down the dark waterways which give to parts of Tokyo a Venetian picturesqueness. Passengers, too proud to walk, flit past noiselessly in rubber-tyred rickshaws—which are not, as many believe, an ancient and typical Oriental conveyance, but the modern invention of an English missionary called Robinson. The hum of the city is dominated by the screech of the tramcars in the principal streets and by the patter of the wooden clogs, an incessant, irritating sound like rain. But these were now hushed by the snow.