“He is away from town just now. When he returns, I think he will invite you to splendid feast.”
With that he took his leave.
“What do you think of him?” Asako asked Tanaka, who had been watching the interview with an attendant chorus of boy sans.
“He is haikara gentleman,” was the reply.
Now, haikara, is a native corruption of the words “high collar,” and denoted at first a variety of Japanese “nut,” who aped the European and the American in his habits, manners and dress—of which pose the high collar was the most visible symbol. The word was presumably contemptuous in its origin. It has since, however, changed its character as so to mean anything smart and fashionable. You can live in a haikara house, you can read haikara books, you can wear a haikara hat. It has become indeed practically a Japanese equivalent for that untranslatable expression “chic.”
* * * * *
Asako Harrington, like all simple people, had little familiarity save with the superficial stratum of her intelligence. She lived in the gladness of her eyes like a happy young animal. Nothing, not even her marriage, had touched her very profoundly. Even the sudden shock of de Brie’s love-making had not shaken anything deeper than her natural pride and her ignorance of mankind.
But in this strange, still land, whose expression looks inwards and whose face is a mask, a change was operating. Ito left her, as he had intended, with a growing sense of her own importance as distinct from her husband. “I was your father’s friend: we were at school together here in Tokyo.” Why, Geoffrey did not even know her father’s name.
Asako did not think as closely as this. She could not. But she must have looked very thoughtful; for when Geoffrey came in, he saw her still sitting in the lounge, and exclaimed,—
“Why, my little Yum Yum, how serious we are! We look as if we were at our own funeral. Couldn’t you get the things you wanted?”
“Oh yes,” said Asako, trying to brighten up, “and I’ve had a visitor. Guess!”
“No and yes. It was Mr. Ito, the lawyer.”
“Oh, that little blighter. That reminds me. I must go and see him to-morrow, and find out what he is doing with our money.”
“My money,” laughed Asako, “Tanaka never lets me forget that.”
“Of course, little one,” said Geoffrey, “I’d be in the workhouse if it wasn’t for you.”
“Geoffrey darling,” said his wife hesitating, “will you give me something?”
“Yes, of course, my sweetheart, what do you want?”
“I want a motor-car, yes please; and I’d like to have a cheque-book of my own. Sometimes when I am out by myself I would like—”
“Why, of course,” said Geoffrey, “you ought to have had one long ago. But it was your own idea; you didn’t want to be bothered with money.”