In the midst of the calm and silence of the night, I strove to recall my poignant impressions of Stamboul; but alas, I strove in vain, they would not return to me in this strange, far-off world. Through the transparent blue gauze appeared my little Japanese, as she lay in her somber night-dress with all the fantastic grace of her country, the nape of her neck resting on its wooden block, and her hair arranged in large shiny bows. Her amber-colored arms, pretty and delicate, emerged, bare up to the shoulders, from her wide sleeves.
“What can those mice on the roof have done to him?” thought Chrysantheme. Of course she could not understand. In a coaxing manner, like a playful kitten, she glanced at me with her half-closed eyes, inquiring why I did not come back to sleep,—and I returned to my place by her side.
It is the National Fete day of France. In Nagasaki roadstead, all the ships are dressed out with flags, and salutes are firing in our honor.
Alas! All day long, I cannot help thinking of that last fourteenth of July, spent in the deep calm and stillness of my old home, the door closed to all intruders, while the gay crowd roared outside; there I had remained till evening, seated on a bench, shaded by a trellis covered with honeysuckle, where in the bye-gone days of my childhood’s summers, I used to settle myself with my copybooks and pretend to learn my lessons. Oh! those days when I was supposed to learn my lessons: how my thoughts used to rove,—what voyages, what distant lands, what tropical forests did I not behold in my dreams! At that time, near the garden bench, in some of the crevices in the stone wall, there dwelt many a big ugly black spider ever on the watch, peeping out of his nook ready to pounce upon any giddy fly or wandering centipede. One of my amusements consisted in tickling the spiders gently, very gently, with a blade of grass or a cherry stalk in their holes. Mystified, they would rush out, fancying they had to deal with some sort of prey, whilst I would rapidly draw back my hand in disgust. Well, last year, on that fourteenth of July, as I recalled my days of Latin themes and translations, now forever flown, and this game of boyish days, I actually recognized the very same spiders (or at least their daughters), lying in wait in the very same holes. Gazing at them and at the tufts of grass and moss around me, a thousand memories of those summers of my early life welled up within me, memories which for years past had lain slumbering under this old wall, sheltered by the ivy boughs. While all that is ourselves perpetually changes and passes away, the constancy with which Nature repeats, always in the same manner, her most infinitesimal details, seems a wonderful mystery; the same peculiar species of moss grow afresh for centuries on precisely the same spot, and the same little insects each summer do the same thing in the same place.