The servants glide into the room which she has just left, moving noiselessly so as not to wake the master who is still sleeping. They remove from his side the thick warm mattresses upon which his wife has been lying, the hard wooden pillow like the block of history, the white sheets and the heavy padded coverlet with sleeves like an enormous kimono. They roil up all these yagu (night implements), fold them and put them away into an unsuspected cupboard in the architecture of the veranda.
Mr. Fujinami Gentaro still snores.
After a while his wife returns. She is dressed for the morning in a plain grey silk kimono with a broad olive-green obi (sash). Her hair is arranged in a formidable helmet-like coiffure—all Japanese matrons with their hair done properly bear a remote resemblance to Pallas Athene and Britannia. This will need the attention of the hairdresser so as to wax into obedience a few hairs left wayward by the night in spite of that severe wooden pillow, whose hard, high discomfort was invented by female vanity to preserve from disarray the rigid order of their locks. Her feet are encased in little white tabi like gloves, for the big toe has a compartment all to itself. She walks with her toes turned in, and with the heels hardly touching the ground. This movement produces a bend of the knees and hips so as to maintain the equilibrium of the body, and a sinuous appearance which is considered the height of elegance in Japan, so that the grace of a beautiful woman is likened to “a willow-tree blown by the wind,” and the shuffle of her feet on the floor-matting to the wind’s whisper.
Mrs. Fujinami carries a red lacquer tray. On the tray is a tiny teapot and a tiny cup and a tiny dish, in which are three little salted damsons, with a toothpick fixed in one of them. It is the petit dejeuner of her lord. She put down the tray beside the head of the pillow, and makes a low obeisance, touching the floor with her forehead.
“O hay[=o] gazaimas’!”
Mr. Fujinami stirs, gapes, stretches, yawns, rubs his lean fist in his hollow eyes, and stares at the rude incursion of daylight. He takes no notice of his wife’s presence. She pours out tea for him with studied pose of hands and wrists, conventional and graceful. She respectfully requests him to condescend to partake. Then she makes obeisance again.
Mr. Fujinami yawns once more, after which he condescends. He sucks down the thin, green tea with a whistling noise. Then he places in his mouth the damson balanced on the point of the toothpick. He turns it over and over with his tongue as though he was chewing a cud. Finally he decides to eat it, and to remove the stone.
Then he rises from his couch. He is a very small wizened man. Dressed in his night kimono of light blue silk, he passes along the veranda in the direction of the morning ablutions. Soon the rending sounds of throat-clearing show that he has begun his wash. Three maids appear as by magic in the vacated room. The bed is rolled away, the matting swept, and the master’s morning clothes are laid out ready for him on his return.