In reality I had quite made up my mind to carry out the scheme I had unfolded to him. Yes, actually, led on by ennui and solitude, I had gradually arrived at dreaming of and looking forward to this absurd marriage. And then, above all, to live for awhile on land, in some shady nook, amid trees and flowers. How tempting it sounded after the long months we had been wasting at the Pescadores (hot and arid islands, devoid of freshness, woods, or streamlets, full of faint odors of China and of death).
We had made great way in latitude, since our vessel had quitted that Chinese furnace, and the constellations in the sky had undergone a series of rapid changes; the Southern Cross had disappeared at the same time as the other austral stars; and the Great Bear rising on the horizon, was almost on as high a level as it is in the French sky. The fresh evening breeze soothed and revived us, bringing back to us the memory of our summer night watches on the coast of Brittany.
What a distance we were, however, from those familiar coasts! What a terrible distance!
At dawn of day we sighted Japan.
Precisely at the foretold moment Japan arose before us, afar off, like a clear and distinct dot in the vast sea, which for so many days had been but a blank space.
At first we saw nothing in the rising sun but a series of tiny pink-tipped heights (the foremost portion of the Fukai islands). Soon, however, appeared all along the horizon, like a thick cloud, a dark veil over the waters, Japan itself; and little by little out of the dense shadow arose the sharp opaque outlines of the Nagasaki mountains.
The wind was dead against us, and the strong breeze, which steadily increased, seemed as if the country were blowing with all its might against us, in a vain effort to drive us away from its shores. The sea, the rigging, the vessel itself, all vibrated and quivered as if with emotion.
By three o’clock in the afternoon all these far-off objects drew close to us, so close, indeed, that they overshadowed us by their rocky masses and dense green thickets.
We now entered into a shady kind of channel enclosed between two high ranges of mountains, curiously symmetrical in shape—like stage scenery, very fine, though unlike nature. It seemed as if Japan opened to our view, through a fairy-like rent, which thus allowed us to penetrate into her very heart.