Tales of Old Japan eBook

Algernon Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron Redesdale
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 481 pages of information about Tales of Old Japan.

“Well, certainly, gentlemen, thanks to you, we have spent the evening in very pleasant conversation.  However, although I am enjoying myself mightily in this way, my people at home must be getting anxious, and so I begin to think that we ought to leave off drinking.”

“Why so?” said the others.

“Well, I’ll tell you.  You know that my only son is twenty-two years of age this year, and a troublesome fellow be is, too.  When I’m at home, he lends a hand sulkily enough in the shop:  but as soon as he no longer sees the shadow of me, he hoists sail and is off to some bad haunt.  Although our relations and connections are always preaching to him, not a word has any more effect that wind blowing into a horse’s ear.  When I think that I shall have to leave my property to such a fellow as that, it makes my heart grow small indeed.  Although, thanks to those to whom I have succeeded, I want for nothing, still, when I think of my son, I shed tears of blood night and day.”

And as he said this with a sigh, a man of some forty-five or forty-six years said—­

“No, no; although you make so much of your misfortunes, your son is but a little extravagant after all.  There’s no such great cause for grief there.  I’ve got a very different story to tell.  Of late years my shopmen, for one reason or another, have been running me into debt, thinking nothing of a debt of fifty or seventy ounces; and so the ledgers get all wrong.  Just think of that.  Here have I been keeping these fellows ever since they were little children unable to blow their own noses, and now, as soon as they come to be a little useful in the shop, they begin running up debts, and are no good whatever to their master.  You see, you only have to spend your money upon your own son.”

Then another gentleman said—­

“Well, I think that to spend money upon your shop-people is no such great hardship after all.  Now I’ve been in something like trouble lately.  I can’t get a penny out of my customers.  One man owes me fifteen ounces; another owes me twenty-five ounces.  Really that is enough to make a man feel as if his heart was worn away.”

When he had finished speaking, an old gentleman, who was sitting opposite, playing with his fan, said—­

“Certainly, gentlemen, your grievances are not without cause; still, to be perpetually asked for a little money, or to back a bill, by one’s relations or friends, and to have a lot of hangers-on dependent on one, as I have, is a worse case still.”

But before the old gentleman had half finished speaking, his neighbour called out—­

“No, no; all you gentlemen are in luxury compared to me.  Please listen to what I have to suffer.  My wife and my mother can’t hit it off anyhow.  All day long they’re like a couple of cows butting at one another with their horns.  The house is as unendurable as if it were full of smoke.  I often think it would be better to send my wife back to her village; but then I’ve got two little children.  If I interfere and take my wife’s part, my mother gets low-spirited.  If I scold my wife, she says that I treat her so brutally because she’s not of the same flesh and blood; and then she hates me.  The trouble and anxiety are beyond description:  I’m like a post stuck up between them.”

Project Gutenberg
Tales of Old Japan from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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