Therefore I continue to inspect the minute and comical details of my dwelling. Here, instead of handles such as we should have put to pull these movable partitions, they have made little oval holes, just the shape of a finger-end, and into which one is evidently to put one’s thumb. These little holes have a bronze ornamentation, and on looking closely, one sees that the bronze is curiously chased: here is a lady fanning herself; there, in the next hole, is represented a branch of cherry in full blossom. What eccentricity there is in the taste of this people! To bestow assiduous labor on such miniature work, and then to hide it at the bottom of a hole to put one’s finger in, looking like a mere spot in the middle of a great white panel; to accumulate so much patient and delicate workmanship on almost imperceptible accessories, and all to produce an effect which is absolutely nil, an effect of the most utter bareness and nudity.
Yves still continues to gaze forth, like Sister Anne. From the side on which he leans, my verandah overlooks a street, or rather a road bordered with houses, which climbs higher and higher, and loses itself almost immediately in the verdure of the mountain, in the fields of tea, the underwood and the cemeteries. As for myself, this delay finishes by irritating me for good and all, and I turn my glances to the opposite side: the other front of my house, also a verandah, opens first of all upon a garden; then upon a marvelous panorama of woods and mountains, with all the venerable Japanese quarters of Nagasaki lying confusedly like a black ant-heap, six hundred feet below us. This evening, in a dull twilight, notwithstanding that it is a twilight of July, these things are melancholy. There are great clouds heavy with rain and showers, ready to fall, traveling across the sky. No, I cannot feel at home, in this strange dwelling I have chosen; I feel sensations of extreme solitude and strangeness; the mere prospect of passing the night in it gives me a shudder of horror.
“Ah! at last, brother,” said Yves, “I believe,—yes, I really believe she is coming at last.”
I look over his shoulder, and I see—a back view of a little doll the finishing touches to whose toilette are being put in the solitary street; a last maternal glance given to the enormous bows of the sash, the folds at the waist. Her dress is of pearl-gray silk, her obi (sash) of mauve satin; a sprig of silver flowers trembles in her black hair; a parting ray of sunlight touches the little figure; five or six persons accompany her. Yes! it is undoubtedly Mdlle. Jasmin; they are bringing me my fiancee!
I rush to the ground floor inhabited by old Madame Prune my landlady, and her aged husband; they are absorbed in prayer before the altar of their ancestors.
“Here they are, Madame Prune,” I cry in Japanese; “here they are! Bring at once the tea, the lamp, the embers, the little pipes for the ladies, the little bamboo pots for spittoons! Bring us as quickly as possible all the accessories for my reception!”